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Opinion Editorial by Kristin Peterson
Sprout Platform Lead
Every new year brings the opportunity to try to do better for ourselves, our families and our communities. It’s the same with the Sprout team! In December, I happened to meet Beth, a smallholder farmer (SHF) near Machakos Town, in Kenya. She told me; “It is the rainy season but the rains never came, we lost our crops and a few of our goats as well”. While this is anecdotal, it holds true to a wider challenge impacting the agriculture sector - changing weather patterns. SHFs across Africa are extremely vulnerable to erratic weather patterns. If the rain doesn’t come or if it comes too soon or too late, too heavy or too light, the farmer's primary income stream is disrupted. What is happening to Beth is applicable to millions of SHFs, millions of families and African economies at risk. At Sprout, we spend a lot of time trying to determine just how we can help smallholders adjust to . radically changing climate conditions. As a result, in October last year, we launched a digital weather advisory services (DWAS) pilot with TomorrowNow for FFOs and their SHFs in Kenya. With DWAS a Farmer Facing Organizations (FFO) can offer weather forecasts for its farmers and farmer groups based on their GPS location. Access to simple 7 day weather helps farmers make decisions for planting, fertilizing and harvesting. Our goal is to scale these services in 2023. You can read more about our DWAS pilot below. Additionally, we are excited to share that Sprout capped the year with over 50 Content Creation Organizations (CCOs) and FFOs and an array of over 95 digital-ready, farmer-friendly value chains. Our content has reached over 1.7M farmers across 5 countries. Looking ahead to 2023, we plan to scale weather advisory services, add deep content for Nigeria through our new strategic partnership with CGIAR EIA (read more below) and much more. With this as a backdrop, we believe that for Beth, and our network of partners (CCOs, FFOs and their farmers), 2023 indeed will be an exciting year. If you are interested in working with us in any of these areas or support Sprout as we scale, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy New Year!
Sprout announces a strategic partnership with CGIAR and highlights Shambapride's work!
Partnerships play a crucial role in the development and implementation of digital agriculture solutions in Africa. These partnerships bring together diverse stakeholders, including farmers, government agencies, private companies, and research institutions, to share knowledge, resources, and expertise. Partnerships can help to bridge the digital divide and ensure that the benefits of digital agriculture are accessible to all. By working together, partners can leverage their strengths and overcome challenges to drive innovation and growth in the sector, ultimately helping improve the livelihoods of farmers and contribute to the overall development of the agricultural sector in Africa. We’re excited to spotlight two partnerships: Sprout and the CGIAR Excellence in Agronomy (EiA) initiative have launched a strategic partnership, joining hands to unleash open digital agriculture advisory content and precision advisory services for farmer facing organizations (FFOs) and the millions of smallholder farmers (SHFs) they serve across Nigeria. Sprout will support EiA to digitize deep researched specific value chain agronomic content for Nigeria using human centered design principles. The content will also be translated in specific local languages. This digital content will then be utilized by Farmer facing organizations (FFOs) in disseminating content to SHFs through multiple channels: such as smart phone-based chat applications (WhatsApp/ Facebook), SMS and IVR technology depending on relevance and channel adoption in Nigeria. This digital content will be designed to be high quality, farmer specific with a strong focus on gender specificity and climate smart agriculture techniques. Sprout is also keen to scale its digital weather advisory solution capabilities for Nigerian farmers, enabling them to build resilience against weather risks and better prepare for changing growing patterns. You can learn more about this strategic partnership here.
Shambapride is providing agriculture best practices to over 20,000 green gram and poultry farmers using Sprout content. The content is being disseminated to agro dealers and farmers. Shambapride highlighted that; “Agro dealers are rarely trained on agronomy or animal husbandry as the focus of those who train them is mostly on business fundamentals. Agro dealers have been providing feedback that SMS based delivery of relevant value chain content helps them to understand the basics of these value chains which enables them to serve farmers better when they visit their shops. For instance, a farmer who is starting out on poultry will often ask a lot of questions to the agro dealer who is a trusted source of information. Sprout content is well curated. Agro dealers also mentioned that being a seller of various poultry products, the content also helps the agro dealer to understand the uses of equipment better.”- Patrick Sampao, Chief Product Officer. Shambapride would like to increase the reach to 100,000
ShambaPride Farmers checking advisory services.
We've reached 1.7 million farmers with over 7M messages sent. With the upcoming rainy seasons and many new partners, we anticipate significant growth in 2023.
Sprout launched it's hyper-local Digital Weather Weather Advisory Services Pilot in October 2022. It's Now Available to Any Partner.
Sprout launched its Digital Weather Advisory Services (DWAS) pilot, in partnership with TomorrowNow.org and powered by next-generation weather intelligence data from Tomorrow.io. The goal of this pilot was to test and refine how farmer friendly, accurate weather advisories can enable smallholder farmers to adapt to radically changing climate patterns. Sprout’s DWAS provides digital, hyperlocal weather forecasts to farmer facing organizations (FFOs) who provide products and services to farmers across Kenya. To get forecasts, FFOs upload data to the Sprout platform that includes GPS locations of their farmer groups and/or individual farmers. They can then generate individualized weather forecasts on demand for all of their farmers/groups at once. Sprout takes real-time forecast data from the Tomorrow.io API and converts it into a simplified, SMS- and farmer-friendly 7-day forecast in English and Kiswahili. The FFO can download this important and perishable data via the Sprout website or API, and make it available to eac
h of their groups or farmers for data-driven decision making through their regular communications channels like SMS and WhatsApp groups.
DWAS is now available to test and use for any FFO. Contact Ritika Sood for more details if you want 7 day weather forecasts for your farmers or farmer groups (some limits apply).
Sprout Senior Agronomist- Kevin Gitau Ng'ang'a was interviewed by by BBC on the lift of GMO ban in Kenya. You can watch the full clipping here.
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Sprout Strategic Partners
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.