From the field to the supermarket, smallholder farmers are largely invisible to the formal supply chains that procure, process, package and market food. For all their hard work, farmers are unable to benefit from inclusion in formal markets.
Our mAgriculture work opens up value chains to smallholder farmers so that they can enjoy those benefits, including increased stability, higher prices, and access to financing.
Using digital technology, we connect farmers to agricultural training, and often marry such training with improved access to finance, to agricultural inputs, and to specific market opportunities.
Our innovations in mAgriculture also make it easier for agribusinesses to work with smallholder farmers: reducing the costs of sourcing crops from remote and dispersed farmers; matching supply with demand; and improving the transparency of transactions.
Across Ghana, smallholder farmers cultivating less than five hectares of land are striking out in new directions to improve their yields, incomes and food security. AgroTech, a new program run by Grameen Foundation and its partners engages farmers through multimedia and on-the-ground advisors.
Launched in late 2015, AgroTech comprises a mobile software application, radio campaign and farmer-led video production and dissemination.
AgroTech works with both government extension agents and commercial farmers who run “outgrower businesses.” These businesses work with and purchase crops from outgrowers, smallholder farmers in their network. The businesses hire field agents who work with the outgrowers.
AgroTech equips the agents with digital technology designed to understand and analyze farmers’ needs and crop history; to deliver agricultural advice; and to enable farmers to procure loans to purchase inputs. Fifty agents work directly with 5,000 farmers in three regions of Ghana.
Grameen Foundation also partners with Farm Radio International for radio programming designed to reach 200,000 farmers, and with Digital Green for the production and distribution of agricultural training videos. Use of multimedia extends AgroTech’s reach, as poor and remote regions in Ghana can still have high rates of illiteracy and spotty cellular network coverage.
Partners include the New Alliance ICT Extension Challenge Fund, Ghana’s Ministry of Food and Agriculture, ACDI/VOCA, Digital Green, and Farm Radio International.
Colombia’s Antioquia region is prized for its great agricultural potential. However, its capital city, Medellín, imports 71 percent of the food consumed by its residents, and malnutrition is prevalent in young children.
To improve productivity of the region’s smallholder farmers and connect them with high-paying markets, we have developed an mSourcing tool. Field agents use the digital tool to both collect and disseminate information that helps farmers improve their quality, increase their output, and connect to large-scale buyers.
In the pilot, there was a 90 percent decrease in ordering mistakes, and farmers got paid more quickly – in seven days instead of 40 -- overcoming an obstacle (long payment times) that often prevents farmers from selling to formal markets.
In 2016, Grameen Foundation began working with Fundación Salva Terra, a nonprofit that promotes organic farming in vulnerable communities, and Orgaenik Foundation, a nonprofit that trains farmers and gives them access to inputs and markets.
The mSourcing solution is built on Salesforce App Cloud and uses TaroWorks™, a mobile-based management and data collection software, to process orders and transactions between buyers (typically restaurants, supermarkets and families) and farmers.