Category: Opinion

The impact of COVID-19 on African smallholders

As COVID-19 takes hold in Africa we are concerned about the impact it will have on our clients, the small farmers that they work with and the agricultural sector as a whole. Many Africans are simply not able to stay at home in a “lockdown” to avoid contracting and spreading the virus – they would quickly …

Seven ways in which data can empower field officers

Call me old fashioned, but I firmly believe that the best way to support small farmers is through field officers. These staff are the crucial link between an agribusiness and rural farmers and the relationship that they build is critical for successful contract farming models. Half-hearted attempts to provide support, with field officers too thinly …

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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