Insights Overview


Farmer Impacts


Institutional Impacts


Ecosystem Impacts

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EXPANSION
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.

9

countries

$40M+

grant funding

150+

partners

8M

smallholder farmers
registered

98%

active users

40%

women smallholder
farmers

3 KEY LEARNING PILLARS

Smallholder Level

Increase income, productivity and resilience through access to high impact, digitally-enabled bundles of products and services with a strong focus on women.

Institutional Level

Improve and scale sustainable offerings of digitally-enabled, inclusive products and

Ecosystem Level

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
  • Mechanization
  • E-Learning
  • Soil Testing
  • Edutainment

Financial Products & Services

  • Digital Input Loan
  • Insurance
  • Mobile Saving & Borrowing

Digital Markets

  • Access To Markets

Logistics & Distribution

  • Aggregation
  • Digital Field Force

Data Readiness

  • Uses of Alternative Data
  • Credit Scoring

Methodologies Applied

Quantitative

  • Administrative Data analytics
  • Before-and-after Evaluation
  • Panel Study
  • Quant experiment evaluation
  • Prototyping

Qualitative

  • Key Informant Interviews
  • Human centered design
  • Persona Creation
  • Journey mapping
  • Focus Group Discussion

SMALLHOLDER FARMER IMPACTS

FARMER

STORIES

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

Female AgriPay User

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.

Male DigiFarm User

Key farmer impact across AgriFin’s portfolio:

First Access
Alternatives
Challenges
Net Promoter Score
Agricultural Practices
Production
Money Earned
Change in Income
Quality of Life
Recovery from Shocks

84% first time accessing product/service provided
81% reported no access to a good alternative
30% reported challenges
49 on a – 100 to 100 scale
80% reported improvement
73% reported increase
70% reported increase
34% net increase
77% reported improvement
53% increased ability

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

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.

Gender Impact

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.

DigiFarm’s Impact

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.

Undergoing continuous design processes to better meet farmers’ changing needs, our Financial Products have so far achieved
(in Zambia):

18K+

farmers
registered

40%

women
farmers

350+

job creation
for agents

INSTITUTIONAL IMPACTS

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 amongĀ  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.

ECOSYSTEM IMPACTS

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.

EMERGENCY RESPONSE

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.
Case Study (The Impact of digital Channels on Farmer Behavior during Crises)

COVID-19

Desert Locusts

16M

SHFs reached inĀ 
6 months

75%

SHFs reported receipt of critical information to stay healthy and productive

Channels

TV

SMS

WhatsApp

Interactive Voice Response (IVR)

SMS + In Person

Kenya

Wefarm & producers direct

SMS + ITV Campaign

Kenya

Ishamba & mediae

IVR Campaign

Nigeria

Viamo & Airtel

IVR + SMS + Agents

Ethiopia

Agricultural Transform. Agency

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