Developing a High-Quality Advisory Service for 100 Million Farmers using New Technology Tools
Smallholder farmers 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. UP provided seed funding to establish a new initiative, Precision Agriculture for Development (PAD), that uses 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 gives 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 allows PAD to deliver precise agricultural advice. PAD’s technology does not just deliver information, but also gathers information from farmers to ensure the advice continuously improves.
Today, PAD is reaching more than 4.5 million farmers across 11 countries and was recently rebranded as Precision Development to reflect their expanded suite of services in areas such as nutrition and education.