Developing a High-Quality Advisory Service for 100 Million Farmers using New Technology Tools
Smallholder farms support more than two billion people worldwide, but many rely on agricultural practices which may be inefficient and environmentally unsustainable. Research suggests that even small changes in agricultural practices can often substantially increase productivity and profits while also improving environmental sustainability. While governments around the world invest heavily in large-scale agriculture extension programs, advice frequently does not reach poor farmers, and when it does, it may not be tailored to local agro-climatic conditions. In developed countries, precision agriculture – which includes new technologies such as soil, yield, and climate sensors – is transforming agricultural production. A brand new initiative, Precision Agriculture for Development (PAD), will use new technologies to bring customized agricultural information to over 100 million farmers in the developing world.
PAD’s service is an intelligent platform that provides individualized recommendations based on theory and data. It will give farmers advice for their particular farm through mobile phones, enabling farmers to improve production. Technological advances in environmental monitoring, weather forecasting, satellite imagery, remote sensing, and machine learning will allow PAD to deliver precise agricultural advice. PAD’s technology will not just deliver information to but also gather information from farmers to ensure the advice continuously improves. Once PAD develops its technology platform and delivery model, the initiative will explore sustainable funding pathways, from partnerships with government extension programs to collaboration in value chains with anchor buyers.