Our programs help stabilize the poorest farmers by reducing their risks to outside shocks, whether outside shocks like those from extreme weather or market volatility or internal shocks caused by a health crisis or food shortage. To be prepared, farm households need some form of financial security, health protection, access to weather information, and tools for adapting to extreme and hard-to-predict events.
Although they are the backbone of a one-billion-dollar national industry, most coconut farmers in the Philippines are chronically poor and especially vulnerable to climate change. Typhoon Haiyan destroyed 33 million coconut trees in 2013; four years later farmers are still rebuilding their livelihoods.
Our FarmerLink program connects coconut farmers with a range of services and information: from agricultural loan products and micro-insurance to real-time weather data to advice on crop pest management. Together, these services help farmers strengthen their businesses, build resilience, and mitigate losses due to changing climate and extreme weather.
FarmerLink combines satellite data and farm data collected by mobile-equipped field agents to predict and detect threats from climate-sensitive pests and disease. As threats are identified, farmers receive warnings over their mobile phones. Early warning also enables government agents to focus on outbreak areas, sending response teams to help control outbreaks before they cause devastating losses.
Partners include the government’s Philippine Coconut Authority and private-sector coconut buyers, including Franklin Baker and Nutiva, as well as Planet Labs, Stichting Progreso, and Filipino microfinance institutions, food corporations, and agronomists. The project plans to reach 20,000 farmers by 2017 and is part of the Global Resilience Partnership.
Many of Colombia’s farm families earn too little from their crops to afford a nutritionally balanced diet, and spend much of their farming income on purchasing food despite growing food for a living. Child malnutrition is far too common. But the MANA program demonstrated that it is possible for even poor families to enjoy a healthy diet. It trained 34,000 poor households in nutrition and best agricultural practices.
The provincial government of Antioquia originally established MANA to train farmers and support the cultivation of backyard gardens through providing access to farm inputs. We worked with the government to increase MANA’s impact using digital technology.
Government field agents used mobile phones and special apps to collect information on food production and farming practices across the community, and advisors trained farmers on agricultural best practices. The data collected by field agents also allowed the government to identify and concentrate on the community’s poorest families.
The program, which concluded in 2015, had a dramatic impact: after two years of operation, the number of families classified as severely food insecure fell from 14 percent to zero and dietary diversity increased by 31 percent. On average, families reduced their grocery expenses by 28 percent (US$25), allowing them to stretch their money much further.
Using savings groups as a platform, this program links women farmers to services and financing for climate-smart agriculture, strengthens knowledge and skills on better food utilization and nutrition practices, and improves resilience to food security shocks through increased savings and assets.
Savings group members learn about agricultural information specific to the fragile ecosystem that supports their farms. They are trained in affordable conservation techniques, practices to improve their yields, and business skills to better market their crops. As a group, they have access to suppliers and supplies that would otherwise be challenging for an individual woman farmer to get – fertilizers, pesticides, and improved seeds.
Nutrition education enables group members to make the most of available foods for the long-term health of their families and, critically, during lean times.
Savings and loans are generated and managed by the group, which is also offered access to formal financial services through mobile banking.
Building Resilience in Burkina Faso is a project of Freedom from Hunger, a supporting organization to Grameen Foundation in Burkina Faso.