About 30 000 farmers of Olam’s coffee, cotton and cocoa in Tanzania stand to benefit from the Connected Farmer Alliance (CFA) agreement that will front the use of mobile technology to increase productivity.
The CFA basically constitutes a public-private partnership between Vodafone Group, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and TechnoServe that will have farmers get farming advice via text message, notifications about upcoming training sessions and events, real-time information about changes in market prices and introduction of mobile money transfer using M-Pesa service in place of cash from December 2014 onwards.
The Daily News Tanzania reports that TechnoServe will provide training for Olam International staff and farmers as well.
Vodafone Group Regional CEO, Africa, Middle East and Asia Pacific Region, Mr Serpil Timuray, said mobile communications offer major opportunities to advance human development – from providing access to education and health information to helping boost productivity in the agriculture sector.
“In this case, mobile services are being used to enhance farmers’ lives and transform business performance at all points of the agricultural value chain.
These partnerships have a powerful effect in helping rural communities develop new skills and grow revenues. Vodafone is committed to using its technology to help improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers around the world,” he added.
Ultimately, the agreement will lead to increased productivity and revenues for smallholding farmers supplying cash crops to Olam.
Olam Environmental & Social Manager, South and East Africa, Mr Jeremy Dufour, said: “Working with the CFA, we can put agriculture expertise, accurate data and payments in to the hands of smallholder farmers in real time and at considerable scale, no matter how remote.
This helps to improve yields and farmer livelihoods while our business benefits from smarter operations and lower costs. Ongoing evaluation from the farmers will be fed back in to the programme.”
On his part, TechnoServe Vice President Global Development, Mr Simon Winter, said that 75 per cent of the world’s poor live in rural areas, with the vast majority dependent on agriculture for all or part of their incomes.
He noted that growth in the agricultural sector, therefore, has been shown to be at least twice as effective at reducing poverty as growth in other sectors.
“Tanzania is a model example of this. But unlike in more developed countries, its farmers do not have sophisticated technology and infrastructure to rely on. This programme will help to change that,” he said.