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Opinion Editorial by Michael Meisel Sprout Chief Technical Architect
One of our big initiatives here at Sprout is to provide you with more customizable, dynamic content. By its very nature, this type of content is always changing based on time, location, and context. As much potential as there is in tailoring information to specific farmers or groups, it is far more challenging to determine if it meets the same high standard of quality that we expect from our static content. Our approach has been to start simple and test empirically. This is why we chose 7-day weather forecasts as our first dynamic content offering. Weather data is widely available and requires only a location as input. Yet, expanding access to the best sources of hyperlocal weather forecasts could have a huge impact. The result is our Digital Weather Advisory Service (DWAS), which provides an easy way to generate SMS-friendly weather forecasts for many locations at once. Before making it broadly available, we ran a small pilot in Kenya, choosing the highest quality weather provider we could find for the region (tomorrow.io). Working with a few farmer facing organizations (FFOs) , we collected feedback from farmers who received these forecasts over the course of a season. Data from (one of our key partners), shows that 88% of the nearly 800 farmers surveyed found these forecasts both useful and accurate. We hope your farmers will agree. Next up we are partnering with CGIAR to design and pilot hyper-local seasonal forecasts for small-scale farmers in Nigeria.
If you are an FFO interested in using DWAS in Africa or joining our Nigeria pilot, please email us at email@example.com.
Cultivating Success Through Powerful Partnerships
We're scaling our reach in Nigeria with new FFOs Agromall, ThriveAgric, Coamana, Hello tractor and Baban Gona. We've developed a deep range of research-backed content, in partnership with CGIARs Excellence in Agronomy (EIA), that is specifically for Nigerian FFOs. The content can be found on the Sprout Platform by searching “Nigeria” as the keyword. Apollo Agriculture, an Ag Tech company based in Kenya that helps small-scale farmers maximize their profits, is an early adopter of our DWAS 7-day weather advisories and is sharing feedback we can use to evolve our service to make it better. We just received this feedback from farmers.
“I was able to plant early at the predicted onset of rains and my maize is currently performing well.” Hellen - in Trans Nzoia
“I am keenly following the weather information received and through it, I was able to get labor early and plant at the right time and my crops are doing well, am also planning my other farming activities accordingly’’, Morine - in Kakamega.
We've reached over 2 million farmers with over 7.5 million messages sent. With our DWAS scale up efforts we anticipate significant growth this year.
In the last two months, Sprout has reached an additional 200k small-scale farmers via partner organizations including, Agribora, ATI, Digicow, Kwik basket, Hiveonline, Shambapride and Syngenta amongst others. We’d like to highlight Sprout partners Equity Foundation, Apollo Agriculture, Mezzanineware (Evuna), Syngenta and Hello Erf. Our collaboration together provides farmers with tools to improve productivity, build climate resilience and improve livelihoods.
Sprout's added high priority content for Nigeria small-scale farmers
Our partnership with CGIAR's Excellence in Agronomy Initiative is rapidly delivering content assets in Nigeria. We have added significant new content in collaboration with CGIAR Centers International Potato Institute/CIP, Competitive African Rice Initiative/CARI, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture/IITA as well as Feed the Future. New expert and scientific content is now available for soybean, irrigated rice, maize, rainfed lowland rice and irish potato. We are also adding cassava, millet, sorghum, cowpea and sweet potatoes content for Nigerian farmers in the coming weeks. Be sure to visit the Sprout Platform here.
We believe in the power of collaboration and knowledge sharing
Nigeria Webinar We'll be hosting our first webinar in collaboration with Nigerian partners around how to enable the agriculture ecosystem to serve its farmers better. We’ll share more information soon. Sankalp Africa Summit 2023 Sprout team members participated as thought leaders and panelists at the Sankalp Africa Summit. The Sankalp Africa Summit is an event that catalyzes collaborations across the entrepreneurial ecosystem to sustainably solve global challenges. Sprout ran a session “It takes a digital village to improve smallholders’ productivity and resilience”. The session was moderated by Sprout Lead, Kristin Peterson.
Ritika Sood, Sprout Partnerships Lead also took part in the “Is GMO the answer to food security for sub-Saharan Africa?”panel discussion. The discussion focused on evidence-based insights, creating sensitization and passing knowledge on the pros and cons of adopting genetically modified food products (GMOs) in Kenya and potentially across sub-Saharan Africa. The session also touched on key issues of public concern on GMOs related to health safety, crop production, hybrid emergence, productivity, profitability, environmental impact, smallholder vulnerability, and sustainability of indigenous crops in context to GMOs. You can read the blog by AgFunder- for more details.
Ethiopia Digital transformation workshop
Sprout organized a workshop in Ethiopia on March 6th, which brought together various public and private sector partners involved in Ethiopia's digital agriculture practices. The primary objective of the workshop was to build awareness about Sprout, and engage partners, including content creators and Farmer Facing Organizations (FFOs). The workshop provided a unique opportunity for participants to learn about the latest developments in digital agriculture and discuss the challenges and opportunities its presents. The event also emphasized the importance of partnerships between the public and private sector to achieve sustainable development in the agricultural sector. The workshop was well attended by representatives from the Ethiopia Agriculture Transformation Institute, Ethiopia Ministry of Agriculture, Mercy Corps AgriFin, Mercy Corps Ethiopia, farmer facing organizations such as Hello Tractor, Hello Erf, Digital Green and others from the Ethiopia Ecosystem, and other Non-governmental Organizations in Ethiopia.
Please join us in welcoming new team members from Ethiopia and Kenya
Emmanuel Ngore Emmanuel Ngore brings over 9 years professional experience in Environmental Policy, Agricultural Policy, Climate Change Policy, and Research. Ngore has a background in Environmental Science (First Degree) and holds a Master of Environmental Management from The Open University in Milton Keynes, United Kingdom. He is a young professional member of IUCN Commission for Ecosystems Management (IUCN CEM) as well as The African Union Commission CAADP Youth Network (CYN) where he provides technical contributions through different thematic working groups for sustainable nature-based solutions and sustainable food systems respectively. You can reach Emmanuel at firstname.lastname@example.org Kristi Williams Kristi has over 30 years of experience in marketing communications. She began her career in the corporate world, managing marketing communications efforts for dozens of the top ad agencies and Fortune 500 brands, including Sprint, VISA, Bank of America, Microsoft Interactive, Sony, and Porsche. Kristi then moved to the non-profit world as a communications consultant working with the Ministry of Education in Namibia, Veterinaries Sans Frontières in Kenya, and the Agricultural Transformation Agency in Ethiopia. Kristi will lead Sprout’s branding, marketing communications, and support partner outreach. You can reach Kristi at email@example.com Peninah Mwenja Peninah Mwenja is a professional with a Bachelor of Science in Business Information Technology from the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology. Peninah is a young professional with previous experience in sales from Bidco and Multichoice Kenya, she has also worked in insurance as an intern at APA Insurance. Nina is joining Sprout as an intern where she will be leveraging her knowledge and experience to bring new perspectives and insights. Peninah is an enthusiastic and motivated professional with a passion for excellence. You can reach Peninah at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the views or opinions of Sprout and or of Mercy Corps Agrifin.