Mercy Corps’ Agri-Fin Mobile program goes live in Indonesia, Uganda, and Zimbabwe

 

A unique “bundled” mobile service is changing the way smallholder farmers conduct business.

A new Mercy Corps program, dubbed “Agri-Fin Mobile” (“agriculture” plus “financial” services), is helping rural farmers in Indonesia, Uganda and Zimbabwe increase their crop yields, boost their food security, and enhance their economic prospects. Launched in July of 2012 with support from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, Agri-Fin Mobile partners local mobile tech companies, financial institutions and research organizations to provide “bundled” support for smallholder farmers. Read more

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Unleashing Ugandan farmers’ potential through mobile phones

 

Farmers will be able to build a credit history through data collected on their farming supply purchases and produce sales.

A powerful new mobile platform combining agriculture information and financial services specifically designed for smallholder farmers is going live in Uganda, helping farmers plow even more value from each acre.

Based on AgriLife, a cloud-based platform, the platform will be accessible via mobile phone and provide two key, interconnected services: data collection and analysis about farmers’ production capability and history, as well as provide an integration point for financial institutions, mobile network operators, produce buyers and their agents to more efficiently provide much-needed services to distant, rural farmers. Read more

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Is Africa ready to climb the value chain in agriculture?

Five hundred million. That’s the official estimate, the number that practitioners arrive at from a range of 200 to 900 million. That is the number of smallholder farmers in the world, and it makes a lot of eyes pop in development circles.
Take for example the most recent agribusiness value-chain event, Making the Connection: value chains for transforming small holder agriculture, which convened recently in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. While the 500 attendees represented the private sector, government, civil society, farmers’ organizations and academia, almost all discussions had a way of looping back to one topic: smallholders.Why is it that the attendees were so fixated on the farming segment of the value chain? Is Africa not yet ready to climb past the very first rung of the value chain? Today, it is estimated that a mere 10% of the global agricultural production undergoes processing.

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The BIG Smallholder Opportunity

Over the past few years, agriculture has returned to the center stage of the development agenda – particularly as price fluctuations and demographic growth aggravate the challenge of food security. A staggering 870 million people, 12 percent of the world’s population, are chronically undernourished today. It’s clear that smallholders are important partners for improving food security when considering that, with 500 million farms worldwide, they cultivate most of the land in developing countries. To achieve food security, effective mechanisms to equip smallholders with the right inputs and tools – as Yasmina Zaidman noted in her recent article commemorating World Food Day – as well as integrating smallholders into local, regional and global value chains bear great opportunities.

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The $450 Billion Opportunity: Catalyzing Smallholder Agricultural Finance

The world’s 450 million smallholder farmers represent a large – and largely unmet – opportunity for agricultural financing. As population growth and rising incomes create unprecedented demand for food, multinational companies increasingly rely on smallholders to secure their supply of agricultural commodities. As a result, smallholders present a compelling opportunity for buyers, lenders, and other actors in the agricultural value chain. However, smallholder production is often characterized by low yields, low quality, poor linkages, and little access to finance.

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Visionary African Plant Breeders Tackle Issue of Better and More Available Seed for Farmers

This article summarizes a meeting held by over 100 African crop breeding experts to discuss how to meet smallholder farmers’ need for high performing and high impact seed varieties.

“In Africa, farmers have largely not benefited from improved seeds due to a lack of localized crop breeding and efficient, dependable seed delivery system. And so crop yields in most of Africa have remained one-third of those produced by farmers in other developing regions of the worlds. Good seed is not just the driving force behind good harvests and eliminating poverty and hunger, it’s the foundation for rapid economic growth,” said Jane Karuku, AGRA president.
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