Last year, Walmart launched a pilot of the Direct Farm Program in India. Similar to other direct farming programs across the world, the one in India focuses on helping local small and medium-sized farmers by shortening their supply chain, eliminating waste, and increasing their profit margins. It’s something that we’ve been able to do in Central America, China, and South Africa, and we were eager to see the difference we can make in this country as well.
The goals for this program are simple: increase the income of smallholder farmers selling product under the direct purchase program; train 8,400 farmers and farm workers in the best agronomic practices; and ensure that 50 percent of those farmers trained are women. We’re happy to report that as of December of last year, we’ve trained more than 9,000 farmers and workers, 44 percent of them women, and Walmart has in turn purchased 468 tons of produce. We expect those numbers to continue to grow.
Our commitment to recruiting women farmers is another example of a broader initiative to encourage the economic empowerment of women. In fact, we’ve set a goal to train 500,000 women in emerging markets in the agriculture value chain by 2016; by the end of 2012 we had reached 33,000. This cause is extremely important to us, and along with the broader goal of helping farmers around the world, it is a high priority.
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