New Farmer Alliance to Improve Incomes and Food Security in Africa

WASHINGTON, DC, June 12, 2012 – Today, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Vodafone, and TechnoServe launched a new partnership to increase the productivity, incomes and resilience of smallholder farmers in Kenya, Mozambique, and Tanzania.  The Connected Farmer Alliance will leverage mobile phone-enabled solutions to improve supply chain efficiency and increase farmers’ ability to access secure, timely payments and other financial services.

The partnership will reach more than 500,000 smallholder farmers by expanding the use of mobile financial services pioneered by Vodafone’s existing mobile money platform, M-Pesa—a highly successful SMS-based money transfer service already at scale in Kenya–where 15 million people exchange $850 million via the system every month. Kenya, Mozambique, and Tanzania are priorities of Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative, and home to Vodafone affiliate companies. Vodafone and TechnoServe will work with farming communities and supply chains in these countries to develop and scale mobile applications that enable rural households to transfer and receive payments securely, access other financial services, and facilitate linkages to local and multinational agribusinesses, especially those looking to serve smallholder farmers working in Feed the Future priority value chains.

“Smallholder farmers across the developing world face obstacles that prevent them from increasing their incomes and strengthening food security, including limited access to the credit, new technologies, local markets and the latest agricultural information,” said Rajiv Shah, Administrator of USAID. “This partnership represents one step in reducing these barriers and is part of USAID’s deep commitment to delivering meaningful results that address the root causes of poverty and hunger.”
Vodafone’s Group External Affairs Director Matthew Kirk said, “Small-scale farmers in emerging markets are both vulnerable and vital: without a steep increase in their productivity, it is hard to see how future generations will avoid global food shortages. Mobile is already transforming hundreds of millions of people's lives in ways unimaginable only a decade ago. Working with partners from other sectors allows us to take that transformation to some of the toughest challenges facing international development.”

“It’s critical that smallholder farmers have access to services that allow them to manage transactions, receive payments, access credit and increase their savings,” said Bruce McNamer, President and CEO of TechnoServe. “Mobile technology offers a rapidly growing platform to give farmers access to these services. At the same time, mobile money can make it easier for other players in agricultural value chains to connect to farmers more efficiently. The Connected Farmer Alliance will help unleash the potential of mobile solutions to transform agricultural markets and create new opportunities for smallholder farmers.”

Vodafone is also a key partner in the recently announced G8 New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, a commitment by G8 nations, African countries and private sector partners to lift 50 million people out of poverty over the next 10 years through inclusive and sustained agricultural growth.

For more information, visit www.usaid.gov and www.vodafone.com.