OF DIGITAL SERVICES
to Smallholder Farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA)
AgriFin in collaboration with its research partners took stock of its impact at farmer, institution and ecosystem levels. Here are some of the key facts, figures and learnings from six years of working with smallholder farmers.
About Mercy Corps AgriFin
AgriFin was created in 2012 with the goal of supporting farmer-facing organizations to harness the promise of digital technology to expand critical services to smallholder farmers around the world.
AgriFin programs have supported more than 8 million smallholders registered for bundles of services developed through the program and 150 partners, as well as 16 million farmers reached with digitally- enabled COVID-19 and Desert Locust support.
3 KEY LEARNING PILLARS
Increase income, productivity and resilience through access to high impact, digitally-enabled bundles of products and services with a strong focus on women.
Improve and scale sustainable offerings of digitally-enabled, inclusive products and
Develop a vibrant ecosystem around smallholder farmers, to support service providers and improve farmer outcomes.
5 CORE AREAS OF INNOVATION
Smart Farming & Ag Advisory
- SMS-Based Advisory
- Soil Testing
Financial Products & Services
- Digital Input Loan
- Mobile Saving & Borrowing
- Access To Markets
Logistics & Distribution
- Digital Field Force
- Uses of Alternative Data
- Credit Scoring
- Administrative Data analytics
- Before-and-after Evaluation
- Panel Study
- Quant experiment evaluation
- Key Informant Interviews
- Human centered design
- Persona Creation
- Journey mapping
- Focus Group Discussion
SMALLHOLDER FARMER IMPACTS
Key farmer impact across AgriFin’s portfolio:
Delivering digitally-enabled data-driven solutions using innovative market-based approaches to smallholder farmers is at the heart of what we do at AgriFin.
By collaborating with a portfolio of implementation partners, we have been able to provide bundled services to improve farmers’ access to inputs, markets and finance.
Using digital platforms, we have streamlined their farming activities, bolstered the agricultural knowledge base, increased their resilience to climate shocks and increased gender inclusion.
Here are some of the key insights from our agile impact studies with some of our strategic partners and farmer-clients.
Farmers receiving bundled services were more likely to report improvements, with no significant difference between male and female farmers in terms of their profiles and the impacts they perceived.
Farmer’s perceived change between 2020 and 2021 (over pandemic period)
35% female respondents | 0.97 relative inclusivity ration implying that partners are reaching poor farmers
73% reported increase
70% reported increase
Change in Income
34% net increase
Quality of Life
77% reported improvement
Recovery from Shocks
53% increased ability
84% first time accessing product/service provided
81% reported no access to a good alternative
30% reported challenges
Net Promoter Score
49 on a – 100 to 100 scale
80% reported improvement
Insights were derived through assessing user segments, and mental models to understand usage by gender, adoption, use and impact on livelihoods. Key findings include:
Yields and Income: Increased yields and incomes, diversification of income streams, and improved financial discipline.
Time Poverty: Reduced time poverty, more time to attend to other household responsibilities and income-generating activities, as a result
of improved efficiency in farming.
Decision-Making: Increased decision-making power over farm and household related issues, including when and how to deploy labor.
Agency: Increased agency in learning, confidence, and community standing, enabling greater control over their personal finances.
Nutrition: Improved nutrition for their families.
A panel survey was conducted on DigiFarm, a platform offering a broad range of bundled services to 1.4 Million farmers in Kenya. Key findings include:
Resilience: DigiFarm provided timely and comprehensive SMS-based advice that increased resilience in dealing with external shocks (75% of respondents).
Learning: DigiFarm improved learning and farm practices, as well as capacity to use technology (90% of respondents).
Income: DigiFarm increased productivity and in turn income (90% of respondents).
Savings: DigiFarm is an increasingly trusted and secure platform, with more users switching to mobile wallets as their primary savings platform.
AgriFin works with more than 150 implementation partners offering a diverse range of products and services across Sub-Saharan Africa. With this in mind, we assessed our impact across some of our strategic partners based on their area of expertise and level of engagement
Before I opened the (Zanaco Bank) AgriPay account, I used to spend unnecessarily. Now with AgriPay, I only access the money I need. I can make better decisions and more productive decisions
They make me more excited about the services provided by DigiFarm. Also, they give me the enthusiasm to even try other services offered by DigiFarm that I haven’t used.
Since 2016, AgriFin and its partners have applied Human-Centered Design (HCD) to various digital financial services to smallholder farmers in Zambia. So far, these products have achieved:
AgriFin has promoted the inclusion of, and connections between, a diverse range of actors serving SHFs by:
- De-risking investments and facilitating partnerships
- Sharing knowledge and resources
- Augmenting digital platforms and bundling essential services
- Increasing relevance of services to SHFs
Logistics & Distribution
AgriFin and its partners explored the need, business models and challenging around building digitally-enabled field agents-digital field force. Technology has played a critical role in empowering women to be strong field agents and bridge the gender gap among smallholders. Digital platforms have enabled field agents to support farmers throughout various value chains
Digital Data Management
AgriFin has strengthened data management strategies for agricultural organizations serving smallholders. By collaborating with private sector actors and government agencies, we have generated key evidence and learnings to improve digital offerings.
Partnerships & Networks
AgriFin has fostered strong partnerships between institutions and built networks across small and large actors addressing the needs of SHFs to promote collaboration, including in times of crisis.
Leveraging its partnerships and networks, AgriFin has improved agricultural data sharing to increase adoption of digital, climate-smart technology.
Through brokering critical new partnerships and generating actionable evidence, AgriFin laid the foundation for a series of commercial Digital Financial Services (DFS) and Digital Information Services (DIS) that are increasingly adopted by farmers. It has helped define the “conducive environment” necessary for DFS/ DIS development.
AgriFin’s impact can be seen across Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania and Zambia. This impact has been most visible in Kenya, with higher investment, greater time spent on the ground, and more digital infrastructure to leverage. AgriFin has enhanced tools, platforms and services designed to serve SHFs, and has promoted approaches, such as Human Centered Design (HCD) to better enable the ecosystem to identify and address farmers’ needs. It has successfully secured funding to extend program activities and tackle evolving challenges.
Designing for SHFs
AgriFin has promoted user-centric approaches, such as HCD, in research and product design, and the incorporation of farmer feedback into partners’ decision-making and strategy development, enhancing the relevance and suitability of products and services for SHFs.
Learning & Adapting
AgriFin has spearheaded reflection and learning in the ecosystem, resulting in adaptation and improvement to investments, programming, and products and services.
Impact of digital channels on farmer behavior during crises
In 2020, AgriFin mobilized ecosystem partners to rapidly responds to the dual COVID-19 and Desert Locust crises. With additional funding from Cisco and Skoll Foundations, we leveraged digital channels to disseminate information on these emergencies. An impact study in Kenya, Ethiopia and Nigeria assessed changes in knowledge, attitude and behaviors among select famers. In 6 months, the digital campaign reached over 16 million farmers via TV, SMS, WhatsApp and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) calls.
SHFs reached in
SHFs reported receipt of critical information to stay healthy and productive
Interactive Voice Response (IVR)
SMS + In Person
Wefarm & producers direct
SMS + IVR Campaign
Ishamba & mediae
Viamo & Airtel
IVR + SMS + Agents
Agricultural Transformation Agency
Browse the Impact Brief