Serving Smallholder Farmers in the Digital Age: Why it Requires Treating Data Like an Asset - NextBillion
ab1630's bookmarks 2018-04-07
"Satellites. The Internet of Things. Big Data. Blockchain. These concepts, among others, can elicit images of a futuristic world for the agricultural sector—and one that is still years away. Then again, maybe not. GSMA estimates that by 2020 almost three-quarters of the world’s population will subscribe to mobile services and that the next wave of mobile connections will mostly come from rural areas, where smallholder farmers produce the majority of food, yet often live in poverty. The rise of mobile phones in rural regions has the potential to change the face of smallholder farming and help lift remote communities out of poverty. The spread of mobile technology combined with remote-sensing data, distributed computing and storage capabilities are opening up new opportunities to integrate smallholder farm households into the broader agri-food system. This change begins with one basic activity: compiling farmer profiles. How farmer profiles are compiled, stored, analyzed and utilized using advanced digital technologies can drive whether, and how quickly, agricultural development is able to end poverty and hunger among rural populations. So what are farmer profiles? Governments and their partners have collected data on and about farmers for decades. More recently, agribusinesses, mobile network operators, financial service providers and other companies have done the same. Typically, their data collection activities share a common goal: to understand farmer needs for products, information services, market linkages and finance. As a result, farmers often spend hours repeatedly answering analogous questions from service providers seeking to understand their customers. Yet the information gathered is often insufficient to fully inform the comprehensive solutions and partnerships needed to transform smallholder farming into viable, sustainable businesses. As technology use increases and improves in rural areas, the paradigm for how smallholder farmers are profiled and defined is shifting. To help describe this shift, Grameen Foundation, supported by USAID’s Digital Development for Feed the Future (D2FTF) and FHI 360, conducted a landscape assessment that: Documents the types of service providers that collect farmer profile data, how data is collected, analyzed and used to support smallholders with products and services, and how this data is shared and managed Highlights innovative models of smallholder farmer data management and sharing in order to inspire new thinking among actors in this space, and Outlines key considerations when assessing existing efforts, or investing in new efforts, to develop and leverage farmer profile data. Findings from the landscape assessment will be shared during a webinar at 10 a.m. EDT, April 9...."