AgriPath: Empowering farmers’ transition to sustainable agriculture through effective and efficient digital pathways


500 million smallholder farmers need to increase their agriculture productivity, income and climate resilience. There is a lack of scientifically validated evidence on the effectiveness and cost efficiency of digital agriculture services. AgriPath aims to bring sustainable agriculture[1] to scale by identifying, evaluating, and promoting promising pathways for digitally supported agricultural advisory services. 

[1] The Consortium will embrace current concepts of climate resilient agriculture, climate smart agriculture, sustainable land management and agro-ecology. 

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Africa
Agriculture & food security
Agricultural services & market
Agricultural research
01.03.2021 - 28.02.2026
CHF  5’050’000
Background The world’s 500 million smallholder farmers produce two-thirds of the food but struggle with low productivity and income, vulnerability to climate change, poor access to information on practices that could help enhance their production, securing their livelihoods and protecting their resource base. Gender equality, in particular, could lead to substantial gains in farm outputs through equal access to, and control over productive resources. Meanwhile, public rural advisory services are dwindling, leaving millions of smallholders without adequate support to face these challenges. In this context, digital agriculture advisory services hold great promise for improving smallholder farmers’ capacity for applying sustainable agriculture practices. Switzerland is currently engaged with different projects to improve the provision of digital agricultural advisory services to smallholder farmers. The respective SDC projects and programmes will thus benefit from synergies and learnings from and with Agripath. 
Objectives

a) 150,000 male and female smallholder farmers (directly plus indirectly reached through dissemination)  increased productivity, income and climate resilience by adopting sustainable agricultural practices; 

b) Sustainable agriculture is widely adopted and natural resources degradation diminished.

Main research question: Which delivery model for digital advisory services has the best impact on the scaling-up and adoption of sustainable agriculture practices by male and female smallholder farmers?

The three models to be compared are: 

1) self-service: the smallholder farmer has access to a phone, downloads the app and uses it on its own.

2) agent-based: the smallholder farmer does not own a phone and accesses the knowledge contained in the app via trainings, workshops and advice provided by the extension agent.[1]

3) hybrid: the smallholder farmer has access to a phone, downloads and uses the app, and receives trainings, workshops and advice from an extension agent. 

[1] Extension agents are responsible for providing advice and information to farmers that will enable them to make informed decisions about a particular innovation, investment or production practice.

Target groups

§  50,000 smallholder farmers, with a focus on youth, of which 50% are women 

§  250 extension agents from public and private advisory service providers in five target countries.

Potential additional smallholders farmers adopting sustainable practices thanks to the project could reach 100,000 within the project’s duration (it is expected that each direct beneficiary convinces another two smallholder farmers to use a digital advisory service and to adopt sustainable agriculture practices). 

Medium-term outcomes

1. 50,000 male and female smallholder farmers have access to evidence-based and tailored advice and adopt sustainable agricultural practices. 

2. Ministries of agriculture, the development community and digital advisory service providers in five countries promote evidence-based delivery models to scale-up gender-sensitive digital advisory services for long-term behaviour change towards sustainable agriculture. 

Results

Expected results:  

- Project implementation partners understand
  enablers and barriers of digital advisory services
  adoption, including intra-household dynamics.-

-  The adapted farmbetter app is released in five
   target countries with an exit strategy for continued
   support of users after the project’s end.

- A toolkit for digital advisory services developers,
  and public and private extension service providers
  is developed.

- Target countries and neighbouring countries are
  supported in scaling sustainable agriculture with
  digital advisory services. 


Results from previous phases:   This project builds on an exchange of first insights produced by the implementation partners of the Consortium (Grameen Foundation USA, Grameen Foundation India and farmbetter Ltd), individually experimenting with different delivery models for digital advisory services. Extension based models are costly, but effective in closing the knowledge gap, especially for women. Self-service models providing advice on tailored sustainable agricultural practices for farmers are more cost-efficient, but barriers include low smartphone literacy, the absence or cost of data connectivity and the lack of explanation by extension agents. The vision for developing a cost efficient and effective delivery model has provoked a dialogue between the implementers. The TRANSFORM call for proposal gave them the opportunity, together with Research Institutions, to apply for resources to test and implement their idea. 


Directorate/federal office responsible SDC
Project partners Contract partner
Private sector
Swiss Academic and Research Institution
  • Swiss Private Sector
  • Swiss Universities or FHS


Coordination with other projects and actors

Coordination with the Focal Point Food Security, with the regional advisor at the Eastern and Southern Africa Division, as well as with the Asia Division. Diffusion of research results with the Food Security network members.

The project will be coordinated with key strategic actors and initiatives, for example with Alliance for a Green Revolution Africa, CGIAR, FAO and Access Agriculture. 

Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF    5’050’000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF    1’000’000