Agriculture is at the centre of livelihoods throughout Africa, and despite mass urban growth, rural populations throughout the continent are not only a large portion of the population, they are the cornerstone of food security
Over 70% of people living in Africa earn their primary living from Agriculture. Of that group, 90% are subsistent farmers living on less than $1-2 per day. Therefore agriculture is more than a core source of economic growth but it is also the source of nourishment for most the Africans. Increasingly, Africa is also becoming a major source of food for the rest of the world across multiple crops.
Africa has 33 million farms of less than 2 hectares, accounting for 80% of all farms (NEPAD, 2013). These farmers are still largely subsistence focused, and struggle to access markets, technical support and capital, and therefore remain out of the more formal food economy. Much effort has been made to provide technical support to these farmers and although many of them have been successful, what remains elusive is access to commercial scale contracts and cash crops. This is generally because these farmers do not organise/co-ordinate their production, lack relationships with large buyers, and do not have the required working capital to produce at larger scales.
Particularly over the last 15 years, large and medium size international and African food companies have increasingly designing their value chains to procure from smallholder farmers. Initially, these were CSR activities, but as food insecurity becomes an increasing problem, and Africa becomes a key grower market, enabling large food value chains which include ‘climate change resilient’ smallholders becomes imperative. As one can imagine, these food companies require constant supply, quality control and consequent visibility and traceability into their value chain. This is very difficult, especially when managing thousands of smallholder farmers. And currently, this entire system is paper / excel based. These systems are prone to error, have large time delays and provide very little security within the value chain.
However, in spite of the precarious living conditions that these communities face, exists a pervasive penetration of mobile devices among smallholder farmers and field extension officers in agri value chains. Mobile telephony and its ubiquity have opened a big opportunity to leverage channels of communication, build business intelligence tools and bridge large gaps between buyers and local smallholders.
GreenFingers Mobile emerges as an ICT tool to digitally manage large agri-value chains and acquire realtime business intelligence. Greenfingers Mobile, a software-as-a-service solution, provides technology driven management and financing of smallholder farmers in larger value chains. Our service enables access to formal markets for smallholders and out-grower schemes; effectively managing technical assistance, inputs and commercial exchange; and increasing traceability throughout the value chain.