One Acre Fund: digitising farmers’ training, inspection, certification, and payment in rural Kenya

24 March, 2022

Industry: Agriculture

Country: Kenya


The Client

In sub-Saharan Africa, more than 50 million families earn a living from small farms and produce around 80 percent of the continent's food. Unfortunately, most of them live on $1 a day. Poverty in the region is a real problem that can be addressed by helping farmers improve their harvests. In this way, they will be able to produce more food more efficiently, pulling themselves out of poverty and eradicating hunger within their communities.

One Acre Fund is a non-profit organisation that supplies financing and training to smallholder farmers to grow more food and generate a permanent gain in farm income. They supply more than 1 million farmers with a complete service bundle of seeds and fertilisers, financing, training, and market facilitation.

Lear more about OAF in the next video: click here

Source photo: One Acre Fund website

The Challenge

The One Acre Fund Market Access team decided to address key challenges that many agribusinesses face in the first years of operations. First, obtain the Global GAP certification for the avocado farmers. Every certification process requires a long list of requirements and constant inspections on the field to the farmers. The second challenge was related to the sourcing of avocados. There are many processes to implement to ensure the quality of a highly perishable product as it is the avocado, for example, field scouting, harvesters tracking, farm-gate collections, instant payments, among others. Lastly, the team identified the need to perform instant farmer payments to facilitate trade and record sharing between farmers and One Acre Fund.

After an assessment, it was relevant for the team to think about the adoption of a digital tool to help them gather all the data and carry out all the activities in the field with more than 300 farmers in a reliable way to ensure compliance. FieldPro and One Acre Fund partnered and defined the objectives of the project as follows:

  • Deployment of FieldPro app for farmers' training, inspection, and certification: including assessing farmer's biological, physical, and chemical risks on crops.

  • Implementation of automated farmers’ purchase and payment system, and integration with Beyonic for payment authorization.

  • Deployment of FieldPro for farmers KYC (Location, contact information, other details such as crops grown) and farmers scouting.

Source photo: One Acre Fund website

The Solution

One Acre Fund was looking for an IT solution flexible enough to be customised to the way they conduct their field activities to provide evidence of compliance for the field staff. One key requirement was to implement transactional capabilities in the mobile app workflows for them to be able to manage payments to farmers.

1. Digitising farmers training, inspection, and certification:

  • Farmers training workflow: used by the extension officers to track the training attendance from the farmers since, in order to obtain a certification, they must have attended all the training topics found on this workflow.

Mobile App Training Workflow

  • Progress visit workflow: used to track activities the farmer performs after they have been boarded. For them to be certified, they must have conducted/performed specific actions such as dug disposable pits, latrines, do away with chemical uses on the farm, among others.

  • Internal inspection workflow: used during inspection of the farmers to learn about the implementation of facilities they had been asked to set up. Some examples: handwash, labelling, crops grown, others.

Mobile App Internal Inspection Workflow

  • Risk assessment workflow: aim to assess any biological, chemical or physical risk that a farmer might be facing and its severity. The workflow has a questionnaire to fill out by the field staff containing questions with predefined answers, option to take photographs, and comments.

  • Scouting workflow: the objective is to digitise the process of pests and diseases infestation checks on farmer crops. As well as the previous one, this workflow contains a questionnaire to fill out by the field staff containing questions with predefined answers, option to take photographs, and comments.

2. Implementing transactional workflows for payments

  • Purchase workflow: used at the produce buying centres to record the quantity of products purchased by One Acre Fund from the farmers and their quality. We implemented transactional functionalities in this workflow aimed to trigger payments to the farmer for their products sold. Through an integration with a payment aggregator (Beyonic), once the workflow is submitted by the field officer, the farmer will receive the payment on his mobile money wallet (M-Pesa, Airtel Money). Several security measures have been put in place to enable the reconciliation of the sums transferred.

Mobile App Purchase Workflow

3. Access to mobile insights and web performance dashboards

Supervisors and field staff are able to access business insights based on their operations through the web and mobile app. The web app shows performance dashboards with key KPIs for One Acre Fund to monitor their activities and obtain insights in real-time. Additionally, through the mobile app, field users can access information about performance depending on the activities assigned to them.

Web performance dashboards

Mobile App insights

The Impact

One Acre Fund and FieldPro started their partnership in 2021. Currently the tool has been deployed to 35 users in Kenya. As next steps, the project aim to:

  • Implement new integrations (SMS/e-receipts) to allow farmers to get details from their sales shortly after the payment has been done. The objective is to enable farmers to obtain records of their performance, quality, price, and deductions so they can make informed decisions. The SMS will summarise key information about the deal including: kgs sold, quality, loan/credit level.

  • Configure transactional functionalities through our system to record the payments of the harvesters. As it has been done for the farmers, the idea is to implement a transactional function for the interactions with harvesters. Currently we just manage a check-list workflow to track the activities with them.

“One Acre Fund was looking for a solution to train farmers, keep records, and provide evidence of compliance for our field-based staff. FieldPro was customised and improved gradually, allowing us to meet our business goals of certification and sourcing from smallholder farmers. The team is reactive, professional and adaptable to our changing needs - which plays a big role in the success of this solution.”

Barthélémy Cabouat, Market Access Senior Associate

Illustration

Manage your field staff digitally