[Rwanda] AgriGO apps to empower the local smallholder farmer to grow financially
AgriGO apps, developed by GO is primarily assisting a farmer to improve the current yield, by availing the right, modern and personalized best practices in farming through personalized SMS in local languages.
What is a personalized SMS for farmer?
The personalized SMS is the one customized and sent individually to the farmer who use AgriGO to help him applying the modern farming and follow the proven crops growing schedule, depending on planted seed. Like other mobile phone users, a farmer has both right and ability to send and receive SMS when communicating, regardless the expected interest of sending or receiving SMS. The farmer who uses AgriGO, is able to record his farming activities from day one of preparing land to the day of harvest. His recording includes quantity and cost per unit for all inputs, to mean seeds, fertilizers, pesticides and the human resources involved, then from there based on his record, AgriGO is able to assist him to maintain his plantation schedule through SMS, and provide him with proven scientific best practices to apply and result in tremendous increasing of yield.
a. Best practices content to increase yield, growth of revenue!
The research has indicated that the application of right best practices increase the yield up to five times even more vis a vis to traditional way of farming applied by our parents. AgriGO avail right and best practices to the farmer considering the quantity of seed sowed, plus his location. The advisory services provided to the farmer are customized from the available researches and best practices recommended by Rwanda Agriculture Board, plus the results of Farmer Field Schools program at district level, as well other content collected from different stakeholders.
b. Negotiate the profitable price!
Not all the time market is fair or at least be transparent from the point of view of a farmer. Most of the farmer sell their harvest in a non-regulated market, to mean it is all about who can negotiate well, price transparency is not there simply because there’s no existing tool to prove the cost of production. A farmer who uses AgriGO, has ability to check the fair price based on the cost of production so that all his negotiation will be supported by recorded activities.
In Rwanda, the agriculture sector occupies approximately 72% of the active population, most of them women, and contributes around 33% of the national GDP, 70% of the country’s export revenue and about 90% of national food needed. The review of the PSTA II and the first Rwanda Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program Compact (CAADP) shows that the agriculture sector has been responsible for almost 50% of the total poverty reduction of 12% points from 2008 to 2012. This resulted from increased production (productivity gains), increased sales of production and increased interventions which drove productivity gains (yield increases up to 7 times and an average of 4 times across many crops (Austin, 2015)).
AgriGO's comprehensive approach
The idea behind AgriGO is not only to empower local smallholder farmers but also to create a digital agriculture ecosystem bringing together different stakeholders in agriculture. On the one hand farmers can create an AgriGO account to get information about basically all topics directly concerning their daily business, like explained above. On the other hand AgriGO provides accounts for different stakeholders in agriculture. For instance, AgriGO can provide a management platform for agricultural cooperatives that have to manage thousands of farmers or can provide an account for financial institutions that want to inform farmers about credit possibilities. So AgriGO supports farmers directly in their daily business but also acts as a communication interface between farmers and their stakeholders.
In general, the information for the farmers is provided through USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) technology that means farmers do not need a smartphone or an internet connection to receive data. They only need access to GSM network (same network as for voice calls or SMS) to create an account with their mobile phone number and receive requested data. Push content provided for example by a bank advertising financial opportunities or reminders of best farming practices will be sent per SMS to the farmers.