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Digitizing farms to empower rural smallholder communities with life-changing knowledge to promote sustainable livelihoods & build resilience

Digitizing farms to empower rural smallholder communities with life-changing knowledge to promote sustainable livelihoods & build resilience

Photo of Katie Messick Maddox

Improving agricultural resilience and on-farm water management with IOT kits/sensors developed with African smallholders in low power areas.

Improving agricultural resilience and on-farm water management with IOT kits/sensors developed with African smallholders in low power areas.

Photo of Katie Messick Maddox
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@Kevin Kung @Kate Rushton - Kate thanks for linking us up! Kevin - it would be great to be in touch and learn a bit more about Safi Sarvi/Safi Organics. I saw you are interested in getting in touch with locally based NGOs supporting local farming practices. We are a farmer-led organisation and we'd love to learn more about doing a pilot with you? Our main projects in Kenya are in Nandi Hills. Please get in touch on here or via email - Katie@producersfoundation.org and I can link you up with our team on the ground in Kenya. Cheers and great project!

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Katie commented on Digital Farm+

Hi Kate,
 
Thanks, we’ll be sure to have everything updated by the 16th June! I wanted to let you know we’ve just updated the beneficiary feedback attachment to include further information based on feedback from farmers over the last two weeks. In this document, we highlight a few new challenges/unexpected responses from farmers.
 
In response to your question of the bad/unexpected, what is the greatest challenge - we’ve given this question a lot of thought as a team. Currently, we think the greatest challenge is to remain farmer-led and farmer-facing throughout all we do and to not be too driven by the potential of innovative/unique digital technology along the way, which is where partners/funding could potentially drive us. In order to create something relevant, adoptable and scaleable by farmers, we need to remain farmer-led, which is central to who we are as an organisation. In recent weeks, we’ve been focusing on ‘getting it right’ on pen and paper first (especially looking at the logbooks we are testing and our digital dashboard), to guarantee we have the right KPI’s in place and incentives for farmers (i.e. farmers will see immediately the benefits of collecting data and having better information/knowledge to improve decision-making).
 
There is always a risk of jumping ahead and creating a ‘great’ digital tool using all sorts of new technology, but these tools are often not used. We need to pace ourselves and be sure we create something relevant to farmers. This means the ‘feedback loop’ we discuss often is delivered to farmers in a truly farmer-friendly format. As one of the experts reviewing our proposal highlighted, lots of digital tools have been created in the last decade, but few have succeeded or scaled. Our USP is being farmer-led and this must remain central as we move forward, which will take longer than incubating prototypes in a lab, but we think getting it right with farmers will be critical to long-term success and sustainability.
 
Please let me know if you have more questions and I hope that answers your question! We’ll be sure to include a bit more about this as we update our proposal.

Best,

Katie

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Katie commented on Digital Farm+

Hi Kate,

Thanks for your questions! We'll be sure to incorporate all answers into our IDEO proposal before the 16th! Thanks for all the feedback and great questions.

Regarding your WeFarm question, yes that is a proposal submitted by WeFarm last year for the "How might we improve the livelihoods of small-scale farmers by reducing food waste and spoilage?" challenge & they were winners! Here is a link to WeFarm's website: https://wefarm.org/.

Thanks!
Katie & the Digital Farm team