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One Acre Fund: How a cellular app prepares smallholder farmers for a profitable harvest


The Transformational Tech collection highlights Cisco’s nonprofit grant recipients that use expertise to assist rework the lives of people and communities.

Greater than 84 % of agricultural producers are smallholder farmers, in response to Our World in Information; that means their farms are lower than two hectares. Whereas they produce one-third of the world’s meals, lots of them expertise poverty themselves and, paradoxically, typically don’t have sufficient meals to feed their households. The excellent news is, progress in agriculture might be as much as two to 4 instances simpler in elevating incomes amongst the poorest, in comparison with progress in different sectors.

A woman holds up some goods.
A duka officer reveals among the merchandise accessible for farmers to buy.

With the audacious aim of fixing world poverty in thoughts, One Acre Fund (OAF) has been working since 2006 to produce smallholder farmers in Sub Saharan Africa with the sources they should enhance their harvests, increase their incomes, undertake environmentally pleasant farming practices and diversify crops to extend resilience to disasters. Amongst their companies that are facilitated by over 6,000 area officers, throughout 9 nations, OAF gives versatile financing whereby farmers can buy high-quality seeds and fertilizers on credit score and repay a greenback right here or a greenback there as they get cash; supply of inputs to areas inside strolling distance of each farmer; coaching; insurance coverage; and entry to progressive merchandise and applied sciences.

Initially, OAF provided a once-a-year supply of seeds, fertilizers, and different farming merchandise from centralized warehouses to farmers’ rural villages, simply in time for planting season. In 2019, they launched the Tupande program in Kenya, which features a one-stop store for high quality farm provides within the type of brilliant yellow delivery containers referred to as dukas (Swahili for “store”), arrange within the rural villages nearer to the farmers. These dukas are transformative as a result of farmers can now entry the provides they want domestically, all yr spherical. To-date, OAF has opened 110 dukas throughout Kenya, with the aim of getting 220 by finish of yr. Their aim is to develop to 330 dukas by mid-2023, with every scaled to serve about 1,500 Kenyan farmers; and finally launch this system in different nations by which they work.

Tupande Goes Digital

A dukas structure in Kenya
One of many dukas unfold throughout Kenya, every serving a mean of 1,500 farmers.

With the help of Cisco’s World Affect Grant program, OAF has developed the Tupande cellular software, which went stay in Kenya in April 2022. The app allows farmers to browse OAF’s product catalog, examine costs, view merchandise images and descriptions, decide what’s in inventory at their native duka, and order – all from their cell phone. “The digital penetration is lots increased in Kenya than it’s in most of the different close by nations,” defined Claire McGuinness, Senior Analyst of OAF’s Technique and Partnerships. “It’s space for us to check, study, and roll out [new technologies] to farmers.”

Julius Tovesi, an entrepreneur who helps his household and broader group of their farming endeavors, mentioned “I first heard concerning the cellular app by way of an Officer on the Tupande Kakamega duka who walked me by way of the way to navigate it. I seemed by way of it, in contrast costs and merchandise on supply with these on the duka, and I used to be impressed, and haven’t stopped utilizing it since!” As soon as an order is positioned from the app, farmers can both go to their native duka to choose up their merchandise, or they’ll have them delivered straight to their houses.

The app just isn’t solely handy for farmers, however it additionally considerably improves OAF’s operations by decreasing the period of time area officers spend dealing with orders. With this time financial savings, they’ll interact with extra farmers to ship coaching and different value-added companies. “The purpose of leverage for us, traditionally, has been occupied with how our area officers can serve extra folks,” defined Claire. “As a result of the extra individuals who will be served by one area officer, the extra environment friendly this system turns into, and the extra folks you’ll be able to attain. [The Tupande app] got here to us because the logical subsequent step of reaching much more farmers. It gives farmers much more flexibility, as a result of whereas they’ll place an order with their area officer, in addition they don’t have to attend for them to return round to put an order.”

The Tupande app can also be a means for OAF to raised interact with a rising era of younger farmers who grew up with tech and like tech-led options. As older farmers are retiring, OAF is targeted on leveraging expertise to draw and retain this youthful era of farmer.

Gearing up for scale to feed a rising inhabitants

A group of people posing for a photo.
One Acre Fund farmers graciously hosted us at their dwelling and shared how the Tupande program and cellular app has positively impacted their lives.

Whereas it’s nonetheless an early-stage pilot, the Tupande cellular app might allow OAF to succeed in 50,000 to 100,000 totally new Kenyan farming households inside the subsequent few years.

“The app is an effective way to leverage belief that we’ve constructed over time and permit us to make use of it to succeed in so many extra folks a lot extra effectively.” Claire went on, “There are 50 million smallholder farming households in Africa. We’re laser targeted on the thought of scale and the way we are able to get to these extra farmers.”

That is particularly essential since it’s estimated that the world’s inhabitants will develop by a minimum of two billion folks by 2050, and rising smallholder farmers’ yields will likely be a vital a part of guaranteeing there will likely be sufficient meals to go round. Cisco is proud to help organizations like One Acre Fund which might be utilizing expertise to assist to scale back poverty, enhance meals safety and construct thriving resilient communities.

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