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Farmers Basket

A Mobile App offering Extension Services(step of the way farming Guide), Market Information,and Trading.

Photo of The great disruptors

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our idea is a Mobile App that is here to map Farmers,commodity buyers and input/ service providers to each other and cut of the middle man who is realising the true value from the product each with the Farmer being the focus as without this being done we can not have a vibrant value chain, hence for us to do this we need to improve the farmers ability to produce thereby mapping the extension services with step of the way process on how to produce particular product. The service also helps extension officer know what challenges farmers are facing with the platform being GIS based they will know location of farmers hence we can then start mapping problems that farmers experience. The platform gets to solve uncertainity to the service providers on markets as they will have information on where what when and why farmer buy certain products and also and what price this will bring about efficiency in the value chain


The whole farming value chain and support service providers will benefit from this app as it will bring about access to market for both the farmers and service providers while it will create efficiency to the extension officers, it will bring about efficiency and consistency in the quality of produce from small scale farmers one aspect that will be improved is also the knowledge and experience sharing


The idea will be implemented in the in Zambia with all types of Farmers, commodity buyers , extension services in this case the government.we are starting in two locations Mumbwa and Kabwe as pilot areas before we fully scale


  • Yes


  • I’ve worked in a sector related to my idea for over a year


  • Yes, for more than one year.


we a company called Fingertip Technologies and the Farmers Basket is an app we have created, we are currently closing off MOUs in our Zambia for partners to pilot with and also raise Finance for the pilot before the platform fully becomes commercial as people will have to know about it and validate


we have build this idea over 5 years and started by us, we had piloted with 600 Farmers and we are now beginning a pilot of 10,000 farmers with the new design we have made having gotten feedback from our Framing group on what they needed and how they needed to experience the operation of the App from the First version we had put up. we have also incorporated how farmers can then have bank accounts by partnering with particular banks hence beginning to bring financial services closer to the Farmer unlike before were Banks felt they needed to Build Physical structures.


Our unique proposition is the fact that we are: . bringing a whole value chain and not a farmer or just extension like most apps doing Farming . Besides data on soil types and pastures we have a weather segment mapped to it where Farmers get to see . . weather predictions and what Farmers need to do to get correct yields at a particular season, we are connecting Agric as a Industry and not a farmer. . Quick Resolve of issues and identify of challenges , . proper way of getting data on Agric unlike current spending huge sums of funds on surveys as platform we has data analytics hence give all sorts of information to researchers thereby reduce time spent theoretical work than action. . Farmers learn about other ventures that can generate them funds or how they can create back and forward linkages on their farms for example a farmer doing Dairy animals would then be able to grow his own crop for feed and process by learning from others who have done so. . with our data on the value chains investments in energy, and other sectors to support its growth will spur


Fingertip Technology will implement the idea with the assistance of: MTN who are the telecom partner to see to it there's coverage and provide Mobile Money Musika, SNV and Heifer international these are bringing on board the Farmer Groups they work with and support and buying them Smart phones and an extension officer with smart phone Commodity buyers these are coming on board to buy commodity from Farmers this will be during the pilot of 10,000 farmers and from there we can launch app


To be able to get to this point we have iterated the app over 4 times and this was to incorporate feedback from the beneficiary in terms on what they wanted to feel and experience when using the App.we originally wanted to just be a trading platform but how Farmers were not producing the desired yields or quality due to knowledge gap hence we incorporated the extension service and step of the way farming aspect. Even with this being in place we then found that Farmers were applying same methods of Farming yet they faced different conditions of Farming at a particular time of the year and location, hence we factored in the weather aspect and soil mapping which has improved yield and Farmers perspective of myths they had of witchcraft and all. we then had to create two interfaces one for corporate user or buyer and other for the individual buyer and then the Farmer we also then moved to how there should be a minimum amount of commodity for a transaction to go through hence we brought the cooperatives on board as amalgamation centers so that small scale farmers can trade even with little harvest and the buy will equally not waste time amalgamating small batched.


Some of our Unanswered questions are around will we find enough credible Transporters with the demand, are we going to have credible support firms to come into the market to provide post harvest storage services, how do we redirect Farmers to new markets when the local market is full before we get into other countries were we can redirect there goods. we are still trying to close off the link of the App to an SMS and USSD platform hence if we won we would be able to afford these expertise and make the platform inclusive to all but this will help those on feature phones buy a smart phone as they will see the value on a feature phone while missing out on the more interactive smart phone one.


The biggest reason has been institutions have wanted to create physical structures and employ more personnel but the rate at which all this is done and the cost we will never resolve these challenges, with Technology we will resolve these challenges quicker and faster then any physical structure, of all they must note that Mobile is here to compliment efforts made by them one example is detection of outbreaks if a farmer can detect a fungal infection in coffee sends a picture on the forum the extension officer will see it advise the mitigant before he goes and can see extent before farmer loses the whole crop where as current setup farmer may go to city finds no officer for a week then doomd


we would like to pilot the idea then full launch by end of 2017 and from there after 2 years roll it out in two other countries in Africa see the response and more countries our vision is to make this the go to platform all across the globe we are now raising funds for finance of the security of the app and logistics for piloting as it will require alot of travel collect data feedback facilitate training for farmers and cooperative agents


  • More than a year


  • Within 50 km of where our team does most of its work
  • Within 100 km of where our team does most of its work
  • Within in 500 km of where our team does most of its work
  • More than 500 km from where our team does most of its work


  • Under $100,000

Situational Analysis

Zambia is a landlocked country in southern Africa covering an area of approximately 3,520 miles, with a population of approximately 14million people. Mining is the biggest contributor to the government coffers in terms of revenue, while Agriculture is the biggest employer in the Economy.

Some facts about Agric sector are:

Agriculture in Zambia supports the livelihoods of over 70% of the population. 78% of

women in Zambia are engaged in agriculture, compared with 69% of men.

• Zambia’s economy has grown steadily in real terms since 2001. However the percent

contribution of the agricultural sector to GDP has declined from 16% in 2001 to

12.6% in 2009.

• Cropping characteristics: Small-scale farming systems in Zambia are overwhelmingly

dominated by a single crop: Maize. In 2009/10, 81.72% of all

smallholders grew maize. Cassava cultivation, the second most important staple food

crop, is geographic confined to the north and northwestern parts of Zambia.

Groundnuts, the second most widely cultivated crop in Zambia and important source

of protein in Zambian diets, are frequently intercropped with maize. In Zambia,

groundnuts are often considered a women’s crop due to their importance for home


• Yields: Yields for all crops in Zambia are well below global averages. However,

while national yields are low, the top 10% of smallholders achieve yields that are one

to nearly four metric tons (mt) more than average depending on the crop. This

suggests the potential for yield improvements in Zambia.

• Input use: While input use has trended upward since 2001, 60% of Zambia farmers

still do not use fertilizer on their fields, while more than 60% do not use hybrid maize


Our Innovation cuts across many missions raised above of Access to information, and connection to markets hence linking them to storage an processing .It is not only a market mapping platform but one that will also help the farmer diversify the goods they can cultivate or rear.

This is an interactive Mobile App that sits on Android platform, it helps Farmers access daily information on whether they are doing Organic or non Organic Farming be it crop or for Meat, Diary and we have added Hyde production as to how they can best keep animal skin in this case for cattle as we have a ready market for the farmers with Zambeef in Zambia.This a platform that will enhance the ability of scaling up majority marginalised farmers who happen to be women and youths from being Small scale farmers to Large scale.

The Farming landscape in Zambia and many countries is the non availability of farming support systems that will guide them in their daily operations as to how they can Cultivate their crop or rear their Animals, in short the extension support services are not very effective hence affect Farmers productivity.With a Farmer being efficient in their productivity they will then inturn gain confidence and increase their ability to optimise the resources they have hen increase in Productivity.

Access to Market information is one challenge Farmers are facing hence they lose out of their actual sales as they do not get real value from their commodity for the middle men capitalise on their desperation to sale for money.If we only provided a platform that improves productivity we will still be at the same point fail because they will need to find a market t sell this to,hence productivity being mapped to access to market information and actual markets to trade in, this will also empower Farmers from just being raw material producers to value addition processes too.Again access to market information is not all as Farmers will have to know how to produce what market wants when it wants and standards to be used to produce what market needs. 

Knowledge exchange is one other challenge that the farmers have as their is no single opportunity that can have them chatting frequently, their are some Facebook groups but  it is difficult to have any one follow up the many discussions that go on as there is no chat management to thread up the different discussions.with the system we have built its GIS activated hence the extension officers on the other hand have a chance to review challenges the Farmers are facing thereby they can respond and give advise online and for challenges that they have to go to they can then move to that location hence improve the extension services efficiency, which in turn improve the efficiency of the farmer to produce what market needs


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Photo of The great disruptors

Hi Chioma

thanks for your feedback and below are responses

Is there a place where we can take a look at the app that you are currently piloting?
Hi Chioma we first did version1 which we did with 600 farmers just to understand dynamics and all the second version we are launching in October after elections are done in Zambia and we a new Minister of Agriculture ushered into office

Who is providing the information about the weather, soil and answers to agricultural questions posed on this app? we have soil association as a partner on the app and a weather analytics tool build by our Team

Can you tell us a little more about who will implement this idea?
we as Fingertip are the implementors with a hybrid of Strategic partners i feel that is information we can fully in an email who the partners are and how so you understand how each partner is contributing to the efficiency of the app
Is Fingertip Technology a company? (If so, with how many staff?)
yes it is a company with stuff of 4 and hoping we will get to a certain level and can then attract financing to build a full team for funds are all personal that have been injected into the Business

What is the nature of the partnerships you mention - have they already begun? (If so, what do they look like?)
the partnerships are diverse we have entities who want to support Farmer groups and see them become efficient and get market information including extension services hence buy them smart phones
we have Mobile Money and Telecom network provider
We have two banks which have been able to map Mobile Money to Bank this is for banking the unbanked
We have extension officers from government this is for us to see the efficiency of the platform to their service deliver 
we have firms that provide inputs to farmers 
we have commodity traders
we have two firms that provide transportation
 If they haven't started, what stage are you at with them?
we have signed MOUs but full pilot implementation should In October as right now its elections campaign time in Zambia Launching such a platfrom may be termed political and also has given us time to finish some coding bits to the platfrom and test the integration

Photo of Chioma Ume

Hi team,

We're curious to learn if you have done any early prototyping or testing with potential users and what were some of the feedback that you received? It'd also be helpful to answer the new Improve questions that we added to your idea submission form. To answer the new questions hit Edit Contribution at the top. Then scroll down to the answer the new questions. Hit Save after you've done editing. Thanks!

Photo of The great disruptors

Hi Chioma,

we have done prototyping with a test pilot of 600 Farmers of which we got a lot of valuable feedback and are now working on putting things in place to pilot with 10,000 farmers... we ahve equally responded to questions added 

Photo of Chioma Ume

Great, thank you for adding answers to our questions! Is there a place where we can take a look at the app that you are currently piloting? 

Who is providing the information about the weather, soil and answers to agricultural questions posed on this app?

Can you tell us a little more about who will implement this idea? Is Fingertip Technology a company? (If so, with how many staff?) What is the nature of the partnerships you mention - have they already begun? (If so, what do they look like?) If they haven't started, what stage are you at with them?


Photo of William Lanier

To help the shortlisted ideas become the best that they can be...

Land tenure is important to agriculture in North America, Australia and Europe. Some countries grant land tenure to guarantee, for example the Smith Lever Act (1914) so transparent University, 4H and Extension programs can cater to grower needs before political, religious and private interests.
True Extension is opt in or opt out education and separated from politics, private sector and religion.

How can tenure-less agriculture and the disruptive protocol fess and services that power SSA now, sustain programs that are truly Extension?
Ruxin (2014) “Step One to Fighting Ebola - Start with Corruption" uses health care to resonate why SSA's "Extension specialists and trainers are weakest links in our efforts to reduce PHL" (Kitinoja, 2015).

Would transparent "OutReach" by the private sector better describe "A Mobile App offering Extension Services (step of the way farming Guide), Market Information,and Trading."?

NeverIdle mobile utility storage

Photo of Sophie Aigner

Hi there,

I would be interested in knowing how the back-end of this system works?  For example, how do you ensure that prices are live and accurate?  How do you ensure that 'briefcase buyers' don't take advantage of the system and reach smallholder farmers?  How do you get your weather information?  Also, how do all these pieces work together?

A second question I have is around bulk buyer willingness to interact directly with smallholder farmers.  Is it realistic that a smallholder farmer will have enough capital to take his/her own crop directly to a bulk buyer?  Will the bulk buyer be open to transacting with a smallholder farmer who doesn't have large amounts of crop?

A third question is around sustainability.  Who will pay to use the system or how is the system funded?

As someone who works in the agriculture sector in Zambia with many smallholder farmers, these are the questions that immediately came to mind.

Kind regards,

Photo of The great disruptors

Hi Sophie 

how are you and thanks for your feed back, interesting to know you are working on the agric space in zambia.

I would be interested in knowing how the back-end of this system works? For example, how do you ensure that prices are live and accurate?

we do not input the data we have placed the data input for pricing in the hands of the actual buyers and they provide the pricing just like Ebay works the account owner inputs the data to avoid any litigation issues that may arise as a result of wrong data captured hence they update and review the data every morning and close of day 

How do you ensure that 'briefcase buyers' don't take advantage of the system and reach smallholder farmers?
With the partnerships we have done for pilot we have brought on board credible players supported by MUSIKA but there is a feedback system that rates the buyer and seller so that people can have a basis to see all that are on the platform are operating within laid out norms and procedures

How do you get your weather information? we are feeding off weather platform that has already been built using an API.  Also, how do all these pieces work together? weather is mapped to the time of year you are cultivating your crop or your animal production hence mapped to diseases or bugs that may be around and affect your yields at a particular time and what you need to do if conditions are in a certain way. 

A second question I have is around bulk buyer willingness to interact directly with smallholder farmers. Is it realistic that a smallholder farmer will have enough capital to take his/her own crop directly to a bulk buyer? Will the bulk buyer be open to transacting with a smallholder farmer who doesn't have large amounts of crop?

we have put minimum and if the farmer does not have minimum they have to amalgamate using the cooperative and from there they are able to get a good price hence reducing on the risk of not having the desired quantities and its from there the cooperative can trade on behalf of the farmer groups and give them better returns

A third question is around sustainability. Who will pay to use the system or how is the system funded?

The payment system is all automated and we are using Mobile money were we have 5% commission on all transactions and we have ad placement fees for firms that want to put up services/ goods that farmers purchase we have a number of firms that have signed up already and we can show the viability, if you are in Zambia we can arrange a meet up
As someone who works in the agriculture sector in Zambia with many smallholder farmers, these are the questions that immediately came to mind.

i hope the answers have resolved the questions you have but please feel free to ask and we can provide the answers where we do not have one we will say we do not have but we have put alot in the app as it has taken 5 years to get here hence has had alot of permutations around the questions you had hence being a hybrid to create efficiency 

Photo of Elly Nelson

Excellent work!!. In addition a smallholder farmers armed with information on current prices has a better chance of negotiating a good deal for his or her produce with passing traders. Furthermore, they can use information on the price of inputs from different sources and on the whereabouts of the nearest buying centre.

Photo of The great disruptors

i totally agree and love your feedback that is our vision to make an informed farmer about all that is going around them

Photo of Elly Nelson

Thank you

Photo of OpenIDEO

Thanks for the post! We're curious to know why your team has chosen to pilot Farmers Basket in Zambia. Have you worked on related projects in Zambia previously?  And which on the ground partners are you currently working with? 

Also, you might be interested in checking out these other two mobile place ideas in the challenge: Farmoji - Urban Markets for Fresh Farm Food and Markit Opportunities for Smallholder Farmers It'd be great to reach out and exchange some insights:)

Photo of Ashley King-Bischof

Thanks, OpenIDEO .

We see the value in mapping farmers and buyers, as well. That's what we're doing! Here in Kenya there are a number of SMS-based weather and market price information services that farmers have access to. The cost is very little. Mostly, however, they fall short as they only record wholesale and retail prices, not farmgate prices. Recording prices at the farm takes a lot more effort.

Our platform allows farmers to auction their surplus crops at a price they choose to buyers in the East Africa Community. Once they do that, we know the true price at the farmgate, as the transaction is done through our mobile platform. This will allow us then to educate farmers in different areas about the relative competitiveness of their surplus. Coupled with wholesale and retail prices, we can recommend which areas to buy and sell from to maximize profits for everyone.

We are looking forward to testing this theory in our next harvesting season for red onions here in Kenya (August/September of 2016). Once we are confident of our system's effectiveness, we will move to other crops - one by one. 

Would be interesting to see what effect that has in Zambia in the future.

Feel free to reach out to me at anytime.


Photo of The great disruptors

our platform the information is inputed by the commodity buyers and theres a minimum the seller can sell hence if a farmer can not reach the minimum quantity he can aggregate and use his cooperative there by giving them power to negotiate and sell at an optimum price unlike current situation where the farmer is at the mercy of the middle man.

Photo of The great disruptors

hi Ashley one thing we have looked into is the fact that if we look at market information and trading only we will not achieve the intended purpose as farmers will have to map the business side to the production side hence we made a platform that will improve everyday farming support to when the produce gets to market stage

Photo of Ashley King-Bischof

Hi! We know that extension services and farmer education are critical to increasing yields for smallholder farmers. In fact, we wouldn't exist if we didn't think the future was bright with organizations like yourselves, improving access to inputs and information for farmers. Our speciality is going to remain in the marketplace. That doesn't mean we aren't in the farms - all of our trades have taken place at a smallholder farm - but it does mean we won't focus on all aspects of farming. We will leave that up to experts and organizations who do that best.

Our goal is to build the best market solution where farmers can easily access larger markets. Our goal will be to reach your farmers in just a few years. That means getting this right, and asking organizations like yours for help on how to do it best. So well before we reach Zambia, let us know what works and what doesn't so we can tailor our offering to your marketplace. Cheers!

Photo of James Makumbi

Hi guys,
I love this idea. I am surprised we are tackling a similar problem (market information) using similar technologies. I am from Uganda and haven't been to Zambia so I don't know the level of technical penetration. Can you tell me how you handle the last mile problem? Do your farmers already use smartphones? Are they already internet savvy? What is the level of internet access.

Photo of The great disruptors

The last mile is the biggest headache yet most interesting ... we have used an approach to help the roll out by bringing donor community on board and many agro Agencies to help pilot the app in different communities that they operate in and for internet we have put the Mobile operators as partners for us to see to it that where there is not coverage they step in and implement tower construction for the farming Blocks which were seen as non entities will now bring huge revenue to their networks and medium of payment on the platform is mobile money hence its a win win situation for all

Photo of James Makumbi

I am still trying to get a partenrship with a local teleco.

Photo of The great disruptors

thanks for the feedback, we have chosen Zambia as we are Originally from Zambia and Zambian Farmers landscape has many challenges when it comes to the value chain being productive... we originally started as a commodity buyer then we saw the gaps and challenges the farmers re facing,swell as the commodity buyers hence came up with this platform it has taken over 5 years to develop as we have had many versions and issues to consider we have developed other apps in Zambia along the way from experiences learnt with the Farmers app but this is one of those that we have not wanted to rush to roll out till we reached current design and operation  model, we have Amatheon Agri and Heifer international as ground partners who we have just structured and MOU and currently sourcing funding for the project before it becomes a full fledged Business