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Partner Profile: Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture

Dr. Yuan Zhou

Washington, DC

The Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture(SFSA) envisions a bright future for smallholder farming. With partners, we help smallholders increase their productivity and incomes while improving their climate resilience and resource use. Our work spans climate adaptation areas as diverse as soil health, water use efficiency, drought-tolerant varieties, post-harvest solutions and crop insurance. We are also active in building the enabling policy environment for climate resilience and creating large-scale climate action programs.

Partnerships are essential. SFSA works on climate-smart innovations with CGIAR centers, university labs, agritech and seed companies and other organizations. Our special contribution is to bridge the gap between public research for innovations and their market delivery for use by smallholders.

One challenge we face is engaging with small-scale farmers cost-effectively as there are barriers in reaching them due to lack of resources. Our solution is to help innovations reach scale through entrepreneurship and enterprise models. These ‘first-mile’ models provide products and services to meet local smallholders’ needs. Our rural entrepreneurship programs, including Agri-Entrepreneurs Growth Foundation in India, now serve well over one million farmers.

There is still a lot of scope for smallholders to adopt climate-smart practices. Barriers to adoption include poor access, limited knowledge, inability to take risks and lack of incentives and innovative financing mechanisms. Partnerships between organizations like the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) and SFSA can help in several ways. Through our present collaboration, World Vision is investigating incentive mechanisms for adoption in India, Kenya and Bangladesh. The program also assesses the ‘enabling environment’ for climate-smart agriculture, including policies, regulations and their implementation.

SFSA looking forward to future collaboration with FFAR and expanding research to other countries. We also look forward to connecting innovation from universities in the U.S. and elsewhere to smallholders’ fields, such providing digital tools that improve climate resilience.

Smallholder farmers on maize field in Mali. Image provided by SFSA.

Dr. Yuan Zhou, Head of Agricultural Policy & China Program

Dr. Yuan Zhou is SFSA’s Head of Agricultural Policy and China Program. She has extensive experience of working with international partners in government, academia and think tanks on agricultural and food policy development. Yuan has published three books and many articles on related topics. She also oversees SFSA’s China program and steers its Impact Measurement and Management work. Yuan holds a Ph.D. in Environmental Economics from Hamburg University and an MBA from IMD.