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.

Context

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.

Opportunity

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.

Strategy

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 supply chain business partners across the three countries to develop and scale mobile applications that will enable rural households to make and receive payments securely, access other financial services such as micro-insurance, and connect to local and multinational agribusinesses, especially those working in priority value chains of Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative.

Launched in June 2012, the Connected Farmer Alliance is a three-year program divided into three workstreams:

The first workstream aims to develop business-to-business services that lower transaction costs and reduce risks for agribusinesses to source from smallholder farmers. By engaging agribusiness partners, they can work to provide farmers with agronomic or market information, extension services, input crediting, or optimize the delivery of such existing services. These solutions will create supply chain efficiencies, linking farmers to commercial markets while facilitating productivity improvements.

In the second workstream, TechnoServe will work towards designing, testing and launching new mobile money services to allow farmers without banks to save and invest their money. This phase aims to help smallholders accumulate assets and reduce financial risk.

In the third workstream, the CFA will help farmers fully utilize the business-to-business and mobile money services developed in the first two phases to ensure sustainable, profitable and growing businesses. This stage 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, financial management and access to capital for men and women.

Results

The CFA is currently facilitating communications and transactions for approximately 6,300 smallholder farmers and three agribusiness clients. In Tanzania, the program is working with a flower seed exporter and a rice processor to facilitate management and disbursement of loans to farmers and outgrowers. 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.

Partners

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.