Mercy Corps AgriFin was recently selected as a grantee of Okta’s for Good Innovation Lab, a new program within Okta’s Nonprofit Technology Initiative that provides access to Okta’s products, talent, and cash as part of a single grant. The grant is intended for the Sprout, the Open Content for Agriculture Platform, a global public good where agronomic content can be accessed and interacted with on a wide range of information related to agriculture best practices that can be used to build smallholder farmers’ capacity and resilience.
Under GIZ’s Digital Agriculture Africa (DAA) Program and the #SmartDevelopmentFund, Mercy Corps AgriFin, along with CoAmana and FSPN, were selected to develop a “Farm to Fork” solution enabling and promoting zero contact to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by use of technology. As part of this program, AgriFin initially launched and piloted Sprout, an Open Content for Agriculture Platform, and the Sprout Learning WhatsApp for Business service, a global public good where agronomic content can be accessed and interacted with on a wide range of information related to agriculture best practices that can be used to build smallholder farm capacity and resilience. This platform was developed, administrated, and hosted in partnership with the Kenyan Agriculture Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), which is tasked with restructuring agricultural and livestock research into a dynamic, innovative, responsive, and well-coordinated system). This platform will leverage AgriFin’s experience working with over 150 smallholder farmer-focused partners to obtain, curate, and share high quality, digital and farmer friendly agriculture content.
As part of NetHope’s 2021 Global Summit, AgriFin experts, Elias Nure and Kristin Peterson as well as Adam Rosenzweig from Okta hosted a session dubbed: Inside the Okta for Good Innovation Lab: Innovating Direct Service with Modern Identity Management. During the session, Adam launched the Okta for Good Innovation Lab and formally award the Mercy Crops AgriFin Program with a grant as part of this new program. Elias and Kristin provided an overview and introduction of the Sprout Program and highlighted the major accomplishments through the Sprout platforms recent pilot and how through the project approximately 100K smallholders (10% of the 1M smallholders reached) engaged and utilized the agriculture content and information obtained from the Sprout Platform and shared through our partners’ respective digital platforms and services.
Sprout Open Content Agricultural Platform (OCAP) and Sprout Learning
As part of the pilot, AgriFin and partners developed a minimum viable product for an open data portal that focused on four objectives:
- Identify partner needs and aggregate high-value content;
- Design/develop a strategy and pilot functional platform collect and share content;
- Test content with partners and farmers through the OCAP minimum viable product;
- Develop next phase platform & sustainability strategy.
Sprout Open Content Development Process
The pilot and MVP focused on testing a few key features and utilizing the SMS and WhatsApp for Business (WA4B) channels to distribute information to farmers. As part of the future phases of the Sprout platform, the project team will incorporate additional digital channels and features will be to increase the value offering for farmer facing organizations and farmers.
Snapshots of Sprout OCAP and Sprout Learning
By the end of the pilot, the Sprout Platform housed approximately 35 value chain content sets, primarily in English and Kiswahili. The Sprout Team has begun adding Amharic content to support our partners in Ethiopia. A WhatsApp for Business (WA4B) service named Sprout Learning was also been rolled out and includes an end-to-end user journey that partners can leverage either through sharing wa.me links or sorting all or select value chain information into their respective WhatsApp for business service. With our partner, Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA), over 20,000 farmers have been able to access basic financial literacy content in 5 local languages including Amharic.
Farmer facing organizations and content distributors can search for content by keywords or commodities, download content in flat files before adapting or utilizing it in their respective digital platforms. All the content has supporting documentation on who developed the content, when it was edited, date producers, and original source documentation. On the other hand, content providers and contributors, can upload, tag, and edit and manage the content from the platform. Content providers can also choose 1 of 6 Content Sharing Licenses from Creative Commons. In many instances, we have supported and worked with many of our partners to transform their content before it’s been uploaded to the Sprout Platform for wider sharing.
As part of the long-term vision, AgriFin envisages designing and building out the Sprout marketplace, introducing precision agriculture and smart farming solutions where agricultural content providers can upload and share agriculture targeted advisories and more detailed information to smallholder farmers through distribution partners and content users.
The Sprout platform ultimately intends to act as a centralized and open platform agriculture content providers and content distributors can leverage to deliver, develop, and repurpose high-quality content to smallholders.
To learn more about Sprout or Sprout Learning, or to enquire about participating in the platform, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sprout OCAP and Sprout Learning will be launched soon. Stay tuned and watch this space to keep informed about the latest developments and launch dates!