Mobile phones are going to help small-scale farmers in Kenya, Nigeria and Pakistan to increase production during the economic slowdown caused by Covid-19.
The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has announced that some 1.7 million small-scale farmers in these countries will soon receive personalized agricultural advice through their mobile phones as a means to improve their incomes, food security and resilience to economic shocks caused by the pandemic.
The innovative initiative, one of 11 proposals to receive initial funding under IFAD’s Rural Poor Stimulus Facility (RPSF), comes as a result of a new partnership between IFAD and Precision Agriculture for Development (PAD), a global non-profit organisation co-founded by Nobel Prize winning economist Michael Kremer.
Using mobile phone technology, farmers will receive low-cost, customized advice to improve on-farm practices, input utilization, pest and disease management, environmental sustainability and access to markets.
IFAD’s RPSF aims to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the livelihoods and food security of rural poor people. Funding for these first 11 initiatives, amounting to $11.2 million from the RPSF plus $5.2 million in co-financing, mainly from governments and implementing partners, will benefit an estimated 6.7 million small-scale farmers in developing countries who are adversely impacted by the economic slowdown caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Technology is playing a part among the initiatives planned, with the establishment of digital platforms for information, training, banking and marketing services.