Rwanda: Commercial beyond its high profile Arsenal campaign

Even I – as a non-football fan – had noticed the unusual tourism advertising campaign launched by Rwanda last year to reach the Premier League’s massive audience. The move received mixed reviews but reflects the invest-to-succeed ethos of Africa’s second fastest growing economy. To put a twist on that rather patronising term, the overwhelming thought …

Smallholdr’s mobile app for GNA’s Private Extension Agents (PEAs): supporting real time data collection at lead farmer level

Seed multiplication by smallholder farmers is the core business model of Good Nature Agro (GNA), a Zambian seed company based in Chipata near the western border of the country. It therefore follows that provision of hands-on extension is a vital part of the company’s business; multiplying certified seed requires a very specific set of farming …

What does the dramatic slowdown in global growth of internet access mean for agritech?

A recent Guardian article reported a dramatic decline in internet access growth suggests digital revolution will remain a distant dream for billions of people. With a proliferation of technology solutions aimed at improving the livelihoods of poor farmers it is a challenge to evaluate which options are the ones that will really endure and make …

Is smallholder farming sexy?

One of the Big Questions arising from the Innovation Forum’s conference this week on how business can make smallholder supply chains resilient was: what does the future hold for smallholder farming? While the current trend is for millennials to venture into niche ethical food businesses in the western world, farming is not seen as the …

Private sector extension: a sustainable agri-retailer model for improving smallholder productivity?

Central to the challenges of food security and poverty alleviation in Sub-Saharan Africa is the need to increase the productivity of smallholder farmers. Access to better inputs and agronomic advice via extension services is therefore vital. A Malawian agri-retailer is rising to these challenges by customising fertiliser blends for smallholders, using extension as a marketing …

Spreadsheets are where data go to die

Conducting a farmer registration survey in Malawi

The data problem and opportunity 570 million smallholder farms, using less than two hectares of land, account for roughly 12% of the world’s agricultural land (World Development, 2016). These farms supply around 30% of our global food commodities, but are hard to reach and often with little formal organisation. It is a challenge for larger …

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