Extreme poverty is a serious problem around the world, and it hits resource-poor farmers especially hard. Nearly 60% of the world’s hungry are resource-poor farmers many of whom, though they depend on the land for their income and sustenance, don’t own the land they work. The fewer resources they have, the harder their struggle. One bad growing season could wipe them out completely.
Nearly 20% of people in the Philippines live in extreme poverty, earning less than $1.25 a day. It’s extremely difficult to make ends meet in rural farm country when yields decline and the farm you’re working is too small.
Exacerbating the hunger problem in The Philippines specifically is depletion of fishing waters, making it harder for folks to rely on the land for their food, as well as unsustainable deforestation. These factors easily compound a farmer’s problems when there is a bad harvest. Lack of money plus lack of food plus not being able to rely on the land for your food is a recipe for starvation.
There are lots of things being done to mitigate these problems. Focusing on the farmer has proven to be the best way to combat poverty in the short term.
Biotech crops are being used to increase yields while they conserve resources. Before there was BT corn, the average yield in million metric tons per year was 4.37. After the introduction of BT corn there was a 44% increase in yield from 2003-2012, followed by a 49% increase from 2003-2014.
Because of that significant increase in production, The Philippines was able to become a corn exporter for the first time ever. This increased farmers’ income by 38%, leading them toward a better life. As a result of this increase in income, farmers started to invest more in their personal lives.
On average there was a 78% increase in spending on day-to-day expenses and a 46% increase in expenditures for home repairs and new furniture and appliances. Perhaps the biggest investment in the future that came out of this increase was a 60% increase in spending on educating children.
There was also a 23% reinvestment in farm capital. In short, farmers are using their increase in capital to improve their lives and the lives of their families as well as the future of their businesses.
While there is often pushback in conversations about biotech crops, the proof of their success is found in the improved lives and lifestyles of the farmers who rely on agriculture for their livelihoods and whose sole job opportunity is farming.
There has been an increase in beneficial bugs no diminishment of arthropod biodiversity, and no compromise of other ecosystems. In short, the environmental impact many who oppose biotech crops warned about hasn’t happened.
Monsanto has been working with these farmers to educate them and help them increase yields for two decades, and the difference this effort has made is evident.
Learn more about the positive impact biotech crops have made in the Philippines from this infographic.