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VSO and Syngenta: Supporting smallholder farmers to increase their yields and incomes

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VSO and Syngenta are working together on a three-year partnership to sustainably improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in Bangladesh. The project has also increased employee engagement and delivered valuable supply chain insights.

Growing together to create thriving smallholder communities

Syngenta's Amanda Scott speaks with members of a women farmers' group in Bangladesh Syngenta

Syngenta senior manager Amanda Scott speaks with members of a women farmers' group while volunteering on the Growing Together project in Bangladesh

An estimated 36% of the Bangladeshi population in rural areas live below the poverty line.

Smallholder farmers face the adverse effects of climate change, limited land availability, and poor access to markets. In rural areas many families struggle to  grow enough food to feed their families, let alone sell for any profit.

Our Growing Together programme harnesses the expertise of senior-level Syngenta employees who volunteer on short-term assignments together with VSO’s local partner, Rural Development and Relief Services.

Each year, two teams of 15 Syngenta volunteers travel to Bangladesh for four weeks to share their expertise.


The objectives of our partnership fall into three categories:

  • Improve livelihoods – Reaching 10,000 farmers by 2018 with improved productivity, links to market and growing household incomes
  • Employee engagement – Connecting employees with Syngenta’s sustainability strategy, the Good Growth Plan, in a deep and meaningful way
  • Business insight – Syngenta and its partners better understand the needs and challenges of smallholder farmers

Reaping the rewards

Working for an international company, I have worked in many multi-cultural teams, but this experience has added a new dimension as we learn to collaborate across the business and development sector. There’s a strong sense of partnership, which is really exciting. Most importantly, it could ensure sustainable and scalable outcomes for vulnerable people and communities.

Jonathan Richards, supply chain manager, Syngenta

By sharing expertise in modern agricultural techniques and technology, Syngenta and VSO have already achieved improvements in the lives of poor farmers:

  • An increase in farmer yields and gross incomes
  • The establishment of ‘farmer hubs’ that have allowed the majority of farmers to secure contracts with private sector companies that guarantee purchase at an agreed price
  • Farmer fertiliser and pesticide volumes and costs reduced

Evidence shows that employee engagement goals are being met to an impressive degree:

  • 90% of participants reported enhanced leadership skills
  • 95% increased understanding of Syngenta’s business and role to play in global food challenges
  • 90% met the personal and organisational goals they had set for themselves
  • 100% felt proud to work for Syngenta


Corporate social responsibility

Syngenta’s Good Growth Plan outlines its commitments towards solving global food security challenges in a world where around a billion people go to bed hungry every night.

Partnering with a respected international development agency like VSO allows Syngenta to tap into local knowledge of context and approaches to alleviating poverty. Organisational benefits to Syngenta include making business practices more sustainable, increasing knowledge of smallholder agriculture and value chains, and investing in the organisational leaders of tomorrow.

Partner with us

Knowledge Exchange is VSO’s corporate employee volunteering offer. Develop your talented employees, while changing lives in the world's poorest communities.

Contact Jennifer Bishop, Private Sector Engagement Manager, to find out more:

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