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Small-scale farmers in Africa to receive agricultural advice through mobile phones

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has announced to help 1.7mn small-scale farmers in Kenya and Nigeria with personalised agricultural advice through their mobile phones, to improve their incomes, food security and resilience to economic shocks caused by COVID-19

The initiative is one of the 11 proposals to receive the initial funding under IFAD’s Rural Poor Stimulus Facility (RPSF), and is a result of a new partnership between IFAD and Precision Agriculture for Development, a global non-profit organisation co-founded by Nobel Prize winning economist Michael Kremer.

Farmers will receive low-cost, customised advice using mobile technology, to improve on-farm practices, input utilisation, pest and disease management, environmental sustainability and access to markets.

IFAD’s RPSF was launched recently by IFAD’s UN Goodwill Ambassadors, Idris Elba and Sabrina Dhowre Elba, to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 on the livelihoods of rural people and improve their food security.

Funding worth US$11.2mn has been received from the RPSF for these first 11 initiatives. In addition, governments and implementing partners will contribute US$5.2mn through co-financing to benefit close to 6.7mn small-scale farmers in developing countries, adversely impacted by the economic slowdown.

Among the proposals financed, are two regionally focused initiatives in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa that will provide emergency livelihood support through local farmers’ organisations, and eight country-level initiatives in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Nepal, Nigeria, Palestine and Rwanda

The majority of these initiatives, which are embedded in national COVID-19 response strategies, will be implemented through IFAD project teams and other strategic partners to ensure fast delivery.

The livelihood support initiatives include, providing seeds and fertiliser in time for planting season, assisting with storage and market transport, supporting local banks to provide credit, and establishing digital platforms for information, training, banking and marketing services. The initiatives will draw on existing targeting data to identify and provide assistance to the most at-risk groups.

A second round of funding, which includes 22 initiatives and amounts to US$13.8mn, is expected by the end of August. More funding from contributing partners will follow later in the year.