Smallholder farmers in select countries across Africa are set to benefit in the first phase of a new initiative that will use mobile technology to help educate the farmers as well as connect them to the global marketplace.
Countries that are set to benefit initially will include Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Nigeria, Ghana and Ethiopia, with plans to expand to other regions around the world to come at a later date.
The new initiative has been reached through a partnership with U.S. based technology research company GeoPoll and the Control Union, an international provider of agricultural inspection and safety services that will see African farmers brought to the global supply chain networks.
Promising to comply with standard business practices, the new initiative will focus on key products that include coffee, cocoa, cotton, fruits, vegetables, palm oil, rice and tobacco, with a specific aim to increase transparency in the global food supply chains.
With GeoPoll providing technology for data collection and using mobile platforms for surveys, the new collaboration will allow Control Union to be able to use technologies from GeoPoll to reach small holding farmers in order to gain more information about their practices.
Since most farmers do not have access to internet for information, the initiative will take advantage of GeoPoll’s flexible platform that is designed to allow the transmission of SMS and voice messages to farmers through basic mobile phones, covering even those not connected to the internet.
Following the collaboration, a number of mobile products will be introducing, including surveys to monitor farmers’ compliance with set up programs, one-way push messages to promote agricultural compliance as well as custom surveys for clients in supply chain to collect data that will enhance operations in local markets.
The data that will be gathered through GeoPoll surveys will allow commercial organizations that include suppliers, exporters and governments to monitor compliance with set standards and help ensure that farmers observe ethics and adhere to set policies.
“Right now, it is very difficult to reach smallholder farmers and those in the surrounding communities to ensure social compliance. International exporters and suppliers want this information so they can buy from smallholder farms with the knowledge that they are engaging in suitable business practices,” reads a statement from Roxana Elliott, Director of Communications at GeoPoll.
The initiative is set to become a win-win for both the small holder farmers who will be able to sell their products quicker as well as the international exporters and suppliers who will be able to buy the right farm produce, and in the long run improve Africa’s agricultural industry.