Connected Farmer Alliance
The Connected Farmer Alliance (CFA) is a public-private partnership that seeks to promote commercially sustainable mobile agriculture solutions and increase productivity and revenues for 500,000 smallholder farmers across Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique. The program also aims to increase revenues for agribusinesses and agricultural value chain service providers.
Smallholder farmers in the developing world face considerable challenges that keep them locked in poverty. A lack of access to information, technical knowledge, markets and capital are among the chief obstacles preventing smallholder farmers from improving their productivity, increasing their incomes and strengthening food security.
Mobile solutions have great potential to increase incomes for smallholder farmers. They can be an effective means of delivering agronomic information and market prices to farmers while also facilitating agricultural transactions and access to financial products. However, costs for implementing mobile solutions are high and only a limited number of mobile network operators have successfully targeted rural African markets.
The Connected Farmer Alliance (CFA) is a partnership among the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Vodafone and TechnoServe that aims to increase the productivity, incomes and resilience of 500,000 smallholder farmers, including 150,000 women, in Kenya, Mozambique and Tanzania. By developing sustainable business models that serve the interests of a broad range of private sector stakeholders, the program seeks to prove the commercial viability of mobile solutions for smallholder farmers.
CFA works with farming communities and agribusiness partners across the three countries to develop and scale mobile applications that enable rural households to make and receive payments securely, access other financial services such as micro-insurance, and connect to local and multinational agribusinesses.
Launched in September 2012, the Connected Farmer Alliance is a three-year program divided into three workstreams:
- The first workstream is focused on the development of the Connected Farmer Solution, a mobile and web service that lowers transaction costs and reduces risks for agribusinesses to source from smallholder farmers. The core functionality of the solution enables agribusinesses to transact with farmers (payments and loans) leveraging Vodafone’s M-Pesa mobile money solution. In addition, the solution allows businesses to better manage their farmer data, drive business analytics, and develop deeper relationships with farmers through the sharing of information. These solutions will create supply chain efficiencies, linking farmers to commercial markets while facilitating productivity improvements.
- In the second workstream, TechnoServe is supporting the scale-up of mobile money services for farmers, including mobile health insurance, and savings and credit. This phase aims to help smallholders accumulate assets and increase resiliency.
- In the third workstream, the CFA will incubate a new generation of mobile value-added services targeting the agriculture sector. TechnoServe will provide business development services including product development, marketing, branding and financial management support to incubation partners.
The Connected Farmer Alliance is currently facilitating communications and transactions for approximately 8,000 smallholder farmers and five agribusiness clients.
In October 2014, the CFA announced its first commercial agreement with agribusiness Olam International to support 30,000 Tanzanian coffee, cotton and cocoa farmers. In Kenya, the CFA is working with a multinational beverage firm to manage information and communications with approximately 5,000 mango and passion fruit farmers.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is an independent agency that provides economic, development and humanitarian assistance around the world in support of the foreign policy goals of the United States.
Vodafone is a British multinational telecommunications company and Africa’s largest mobile network operator.