Announcing Our Second Impact Labs Cohort on Zero Hunger: Supporting Small-Scale Farmers Globally
Hunger is a global issue that affects everyone, everywhere. A couple of weeks ago, we announced our first cohort on Zero Hunger, focusing on food insecurity in the United States. But as we know, getting to Zero Hunger will take collaboration from all regions, with multiple approaches to address the contributing factors. That’s why we’re excited to share more on our second cohort, which is focused on supporting the livelihoods of Small Scale Farmers in low and middle-income countries.
Impact Labs convenes community experts, or fellows, across sectors to co-create new technology solutions to support specific issue areas, including homelessness, equity in education, and climate justice. Each of these groups provided insights into the challenge, determined a focus area where technology can help, and developed a solution.
By bringing together the expertise of leaders from across sectors with the power of Salesforce technology and pro bono talent, this Impact Lab will aim to generate shareable insights and create a solution that supports the work of small-scale farmers in enabling them to make proactive, informed decisions.
Why Small-Scale Farmers?
An estimated 811 million people are hungry globally. That number is expected to increase in the face of climate change, conflict, and COVID-19. Sadly, those whose livelihoods depend on agriculture are the most likely to experience hunger themselves. These small-scale farmers produce one-third of the world’s food and represent over 80% of the world’s farms (Ceres2030). Supporting them is not only essential to the global community’s food supply, but also to the day-to-day well-being of the communities in which they work and live.
Traditionally, infrastructure, cost, and connectivity have limited the availability of technology to small-scale farmers in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). Thankfully, this is changing. Internet use has reached 45% of the total population in LMIC, with 5.1 billion mobile users as of July 2019 (source: IISD). There is an opportunity to support small-scale farmers in accessing low-cost, connected technology to improve their efficiency and efficacy as producers — both during stable times and times of crisis.
In recent years, we have seen the growth of technology interventions that help small-scale farmers access life-saving information to protect their livelihoods and their families. However, there’s a lot more work to be done. This Impact Lab cohort sets out to address the question:
How might we enable female, small-scale farmers in maximizing food production and planning proactively?
What Ideas Were Generated?
As a team, we discussed opportunity areas that emerged from our early conversations with the Community Fellows. We then brainstormed solutions that could address the most prominent challenges, and explored ideas that responded to provocations like:
- What are ways of enabling farmers to feel confident in any guidance provided to take action on day-to-day needs?
- What are ways of translating early warning dashboards captured at the global level into local action?
- What are ways of providing specific and real-time guidance for farmers?
- What are ways of helping farmers get more money from their work?
- What are ways of translating data to meet the farmer’s communication needs?
Ultimately, the cohort decided to move forward with ideas that bring multiple resources together in a user-friendly manner through SMS or USSD. Emphasis was placed on making information actionable, accessible, and bite-sized to fit into the lifestyle of a small-scale farmer. We generated ideas for features like crop-specific guidance, multi-language accessibility, real-time market pricing data, and access to peer-to-peer training and resources. Here’s a summary of a few of the top ideas:
- AgriTextBot Info Hub: A tool for farmers that responds to localized questions and provides up-to-date, real-time information on topics from market pricing to weather indicators and farming support, through a guided conversation and accessible via a feature phone.
- Farmazonzilla: A platform for farmers, cooperatives, and traders that aggregates, connects, and recommends farming services and products to simplify finding facilities, tools, training, and transports.
- MarketMover: A tool that provides and solicits information from farmers and buyers about current market prices to help farmers price competitively, while helping the global community have real-time insight on issues like price inflation.
The team also noted that many tools exist today yet have difficulty scaling beyond a specific community or organization. The cohort identified that the sector is missing a “golden thread” that connects all the disparate pieces of data together in a way that is accessible and understandable for small-scale farmers.
These ideas are just the start. In order to make them successful, we need the input of those using a potential solution. So, to help these ideas come to life, our next phase will focus on working directly with farmers and those in the field to get their feedback, and shape a useful, scalable, sustainable solution.
Interested in getting involved? Email us at [email protected].
Meet the Impact Lab Community Fellow Cohort on Small-Scale Farming
Digital Agriculture Product Manager, World Food Programme Digital Transformation Unit, Nairobi
Casper has 12 years of experience in managing scalable digital solutions in developing countries. He is passionate about using technology as an enabler to drive change and improve last-mile service delivery.
He started his career at a digital solutions start-up in South Africa, and for the past 4 years, he’s been part of the WFP technology team. He has been on field missions to co-create solutions with governments and implementing partners in Zambia, Mozambique, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Nigeria, and Bangladesh.
Dun-Ying Vicki Yu
Senior Consultant, Slalom
Vicki has 14 years of experience in professional services supporting clients across a wide range of industries, including retail, non-profit, healthcare, and financial services. After working on a non-profit project supporting the fight to end global hunger, she earned her Masters in Gastronomy, uniting her love of food and culture with a passion for understanding the impacts of hunger and food insecurity on displaced people such as immigrants and refugees. Today, she uses her consulting skills and ethnographic experience to help clients on their sustainability journeys.
Senior Humanitarian Climate Crisis Advisor, Save the Children International
Working in Save the Children International’s Anticipatory Action team, Emma’s role is focused on strengthening capacities and approaches to prevent or minimize the impacts of extreme weather events on children.
Since 2008 Emma has been engaged in a wide range of climate-resilience building consortia projects, principally in East and West Africa, developing weather and climate information and services to support decision-making at local, national, regional, and international levels.
Senior Program Manager, Oxfam America
Eric manages the Food and Climate Justice Unit at Oxfam America, part of the Food Systems Unit. In his role, he supports country partners in developing and delivering solutions to support agriculture development. Eric’s team at Oxfam is particularly focused on climate-resilient agriculture that improves food security and reduces poverty among small-scale food producers.
Deputy Director Hub; Program Development and Quality Assurance, Action Against Hunger
In her role, Imelda supports in the day-to-day regional program management, providing high-quality support services to country offices in the Horn and Eastern Africa Region, proactively monitors/flags risks in the portfolio, and identifies actions required to remove bottlenecks, to achieve organizational programmatic goals. She is an enthusiastic and technical professional with over 15 years of experience in the humanitarian and development environments in Asia, Horn, and the Eastern Africa region related to food and nutrition security, community nutrition, inclusion planning, design, implementation, technical oversight, monitoring, and evaluation. She has strong engagement and extensive knowledge of working with governments, implementing multi-sector evidence-based programming and nutrition information management.
Senior Program Associate, The Rockefeller Foundation
Mia is a development professional with expertise in health, nutrition, and climate change. She has worked across multiple low and middle-income countries in both policy and research capacities. She leads the Diet Quality portfolio at the Rockefeller Foundation.
Senior Data Scientist, Atrium
Molly is a senior data science consultant at Atrium, a data consulting firm and Salesforce partner. Molly’s background spans nonprofits and direct service, including work with small farmers in northeastern Brazil and upstate New York. Molly works with Atrium’s social impact program, Cultivate, which provides discounted or pro bono support to organizations focused on social good, such as mitigating family homelessness, expanding voting access, & other local and global initiatives.
Innovation Ventures Consultant, World Food Programme
Nicolas is a Project Manager at the Innovation Accelerator of the World Food Programme (WFP), with about 10 years of work experience, including working for Rwanda’s Ministry of Agriculture and running an ag start-up in Rwanda prior to joining the Accelerator of WFP in 2018. He has an MBA in Supply Chain and Finance from Michigan State University and a Bachelor’s degree in Agribusiness from the National University of Rwanda.
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