Supporting farmers with low-cost digital tools during Covid-19

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The current COVID-19 pandemic has created many challenges, but it also creates many new opportunities such as the introduction of digital tools for buyers to manage their supply chains with small scale farmers. “The e Prod team identified several key constraints that basically have crippled field activities for the buyers from small scale producers in Africa”, according to Miss Erna Goudt, Client Relationship Manager at e Prod Solutions.  Due to the current crisis it has indeed become exceedingly difficult to conduct basic field operations remotely. How can buyers register farmers and their fields remotely?

Another major challenge is gathering reliable data to monitor the field production. Many companies are in the dark regarding crop status and need tools to assist with yield forecasting. While COVID-19 measures practically shut down interaction with farmers the current situation does require a continuation of communication for sharing extension messages, market price information, and even updates on the COVID-19 situation itself. Also following up on the field staff’s activities has become even more difficult than ever before. How do buyers verify staff movements, accomplishments, etc?

Finally, and probably the most crippling factor in smallholder agriculture; there is lack of cash liquidity in the field and farmers are unable to invest in land preparation, farming inputs, etc. Many buyers are not able to pay farmers remotely via mobile money transfer or bank account. At the same time farmers can’t access formal credit as linking up with financial institutions is impossible since their credit worthiness can’t be checked. How can buyers share credit risk information with financial institutions, automate loan repayment, tri-partite agreements, manage their input inventories without appropriate and affordable tools?
Please contact the e Prod team to learn about low cost digital and mobile technologies to support farmers under these unprecedented circumstances.

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