Smallholder Women Farmers See Improved Financial Independence with Support from Walmart Foundation Grantees

Muni Heprika with her agricultural produce; brinjals

The Walmart Foundation’s Market Access Program in Collaboration with NGOs aim to reach over 5 Lakh Smallholder Women Farmers

NEW DELHI, India, Oct. 12, 2023, – On International Rural Women's Day, Walmart Foundation highlights the impactful efforts of NGOs like PRADAN, ACCESS, Mercy Corps and SRIJAN, working in collaboration with the Walmart Foundation's Market Access Program.

The Walmart Foundation, through its Market Access Program, is committed to support agrarian communities in nine states across India – Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, West Bengal, and Maharashtra. In March 2023, expanding on its commitment to improving farmer livelihoods in India, Walmart Foundation announced a new five-year strategy that aims to reach 1 million smallholder farmers by 2028 with at least 50% women. Since 2018, the program has invested over $39 million designed to reach 500 Farmer Producer Organizations/Farmer Producer Groups targeting 800,000 farmers, of which more than half are women.

According to an impact study conducted by Sambodhi, an India-based impact measurement firm, women farmers under Walmart Foundation’s Market Access Program showed greater participation, awareness, and decision-making as FPO office bearers. Fewer women in program FPOs had to borrow from their household to pay FPO membership fees (22% vs. 40% comparison), indicating greater independence. An analysis of key farm metrics showed that women farmers had significantly higher cropping intensity (210% for Market Access women farmers vs 149% for comparison set) as well as diversity, and they cultivated more high value crops.

The project PROWFIT, implemented by PRADAN, intends to nurture 60 women led FPOs with membership of women from small, marginal holder farmers and mostly tribal households in the  rural parts of eastern India. PROWIT works with 60 FPOs and 120,000 women farmers in West Bengal, Jharkhand, Odisha and Madhya Pradesh. Muni Heprika’s story from Rayagada in Odisha exemplifies the success of this project. From an annual income of Rs. 20,000, Muni's earnings grew to Rs. 122,914 per year. Being trained under the program on pest control and better cultivation techniques, Muni was able to maximise her yield and income.

ACCESS Development Services, under its project UDAAN, works to enhance incomes of smallholder farmers through Inclusive Value Chains. They engage with 20 FPOs (6 women-led model), 12,000 farmers; out of which 6,600 would be women farmers, based in West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh. Hemlata Lodhi from Chaurai village who is supported by the project, sold 47.5 quintals of garlic worth Rs 52,250 through the Farmer Producer Company (FPC), she received payment the same day and earned an additional profit of Rs 9,500 over and above the price offered by local traders.

SRIJAN’s project is aimed at economic empowerment of women from small and marginal farmer families through community institutional linkages. They work with 12 FPOs, 25,000 farmers including 15,000 women farmers in Madhya Pradesh to increase incomes in a sustainable manner. The success story of 1,300 rural women of the Amarkantak Horticulture Producer Company, Madhya Pradesh shows the impact of the project. These women farmers set up a processing unit in Pushparajgarh and increased their total profit by selling processed Kodo (millet) at Rs.80/kg instead in the raw form which were sold at only Rs. 27/kg earlier.

Mercy Corps aims to build digital financial inclusion for 100,000 women smallholder farmers, bundled with services to increase productivity, income and resilience by at least 25% over a two-year period in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Telangana. They partner with private sector organisations that have a proven track record to reach women farmers and provide them with services. 

"On International Rural Women's Day, we are excited about the strides made by these resilient women who have harnessed the opportunities presented by the Market Access Program. We are witnessing the emergence of women leaders within Farmer Producer Organisations breaking barriers, and spearheading change. With organisations like ACCESS, Mercy Corps, PRADAN and Srijan by our side, we are forging a path toward greater gender equality, economic empowerment, and sustainable rural development. Together, we are nurturing a brighter future for rural women farmers and their communities."
Julie Gehrki, Vice President, Chief Operating Officer, Walmart Foundation

By enhancing market access for rural women, the program is driving gender equality, alleviating poverty, and nurturing sustainable development. The voices and contributions of these remarkable women are being recognized and celebrated.

About Philanthropy at Walmart 
Walmart.org represents the philanthropic efforts of Walmart and the Walmart Foundation. By focusing where the business has unique strengths, Walmart.org works to tackle key social and environmental issues and collaborate with others to spark long-lasting systemic change. Walmart has stores in 20 countries, employs more than 2 million associates and does business with thousands of suppliers who, in turn, employ millions of people. Walmart.org is helping people live better by supporting programs to accelerate upward job mobility for frontline workers, advance equity, address hunger, build inclusive economic opportunity for people in supply chains, protect and restore nature, reduce waste and emissions and build strong communities where Walmart operates. To learn more, visit www.walmart.org or connect on Twitter @Walmartorg. 

About ACCESS Development Services
ACCESS Development Services is a national livelihoods support organization with focus on incubating innovations for sustainable livelihoods of the poor. It is a partner to global stakeholders in building resilient communities and delivering on the Sustainable Development Goals. It works to improve lives of those at the bottom of the pyramid and enable poverty reduction through innovative, market-led sustainable livelihood solutions. ACCESS operates in 10 states of India and is currently implementing over 34 programme initiatives impacting livelihoods of over 3,90,000 poor households. ACCESS also provides technical support to other NGOs, government bodies, government departments and also engages in policy advocacy through two national level initiatives called- the Livelihoods India and the Inclusive Finance India

About Mercy Corps
Mercy Corps AgriFin (MCA) is a Mercy Corps ag-tech program focused on the transformation of agriculture through digital innovation. AgriFin Program works with public and private sector partners to design, test and scale digitally enabled products and services for smallholder farmers in order to increase their productivity, incomes and resilience by 50% while reaching at least 40% women. AgriFin helps its partners to de-risk innovation, support inclusive services delivery and business models for a sustainable scale. Since 2015, AgriFin has completed more than 200 engagements with over 150 partners reaching more than 17 million smallholder farmers across sub-Saharan Africa. 

PRADAN was created in 1983 by two young professionals, Deep Joshi and Vijay Mahajan, who were convinced that even the stubborn, endemic poverty of rural India can be solved. They believed that well-educated professionals working within communities can bring both the empathy and knowledge needed to help poor people improve their lives.

PRADAN believes that all people, no matter how poor, are capable of driving the change they need. PRADAN works in the poorest regions of India to help vulnerable communities organize collectives that help people, especially women, earn a decent living and support their families. We also help them access government programs and other entitlements as citizens.

The organisation primarily focuses on women and people from marginalized communities and facilitates them in developing their own skills and initiatives, instead of delivering services or solutions to them. They learn through experience how to build a livelihood and to access the information they need to engage effectively with government authorities and other people in power. 

SRIJAN, established in 2000, is a prominent Public Charitable Trust in India specializing in grassroots initiatives. It focuses on assisting small and marginalized farmer families, women, and other underprivileged groups in the poorest rural regions across fifteen livelihood themes. SRIJAN has also provided technical support to programs in Telangana and Maharashtra, strengthened NTFP Value Chains with SHGs, and collaborated with State Rural Livelihood Missions in UP and MP to enhance community-led institutions. SRIJAN also promotes and builds the capacities of FPOs and connects them with mainstream financial institutions and markets. SRIJAN currently operates in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Chhattisgarh, impacting over 200,000 families in 2,204 villages through partnerships with government agencies and private donors.