Fiji and Timor-Lesté
Sustainable Development Goal Targeted: Zero Hunger
The scale of agriculture is incredible. 70% of the world’s food is created by small landholder farmers on less than 5 ha. This amounts to 570 million households farming 380 million hectares of land who cannot access expertise from research, corporations or current practice.
Lack of market coordination and limited agricultural knowledge can result in an oversupply of certain crops in a developing country which increases vulnerability to disease, loss and environmental disaster.
Agriculture as an industry employs 40% of the global population. Most of digital-based are subsistence farmers earning less than USD$5 per day. Enabling productivity gains has a direct impact on their income.
Significant loss of crops and incorrect use of pesticides has downstream effects, not only the flow-on economy but the state of life on land and life in the sea. Soil erosion, loss of biodiversity and chemical outflow into the sea can be linked to poor agricultural practices.
In realising the second sustainable development goal, Project Everest has developed an understanding of the target beneficiaries who are small landholder farmers in developing countries with an average of 5 hectares of land. These beneficiaries are characterised as conducting family enterprise or subsistence farming with few crops and utilising hand tools with knowledge passed down from older generations.
The proposed solution, FarmEd, is a unique technology-based consultancy service that brings agricultural expertise to smallholder farmers, to create a food supply chain that is smarter, more efficient and more profitable.
The aim is to utilise advanced technologies, such as sensors and cognitive computing to bring the most up to date information on agricultural practice to farmers in real time, in a tailored fashion.
Currently, FarmEd provides a commercial consulting service to small folder farmers and charges a nominal amount to show that there is perceived value in this service. Through this collaboration with farmers, we are able to ascertain the right kind of processes and information that is to be included in our web-based consulting service. In the long run, it is envisioned that FarmEd will contain a text, photo and voice input for queries, a natural language processor and subsequent intelligent extraction of relevant information, recommendations and predictions in response to the query.
HOW IT WORKS
FarmEd seeks to provide a 20%+ uplift in agricultural output to prospective beneficiaries through the provision of timely expertise that is relevant and tailored. This is the direct social impact to farmers which has many flow-on impacts on the farmers family and broader community. These impacts include consistency in income, higher income, and subsequent financial stability. In the longer-term, this impacts the community through re-investment in education and increased food security.
FarmEd has experimented with several value propositions to inform the future development of a digital-based solution. This includes charging customers for paper-based reports provided through traditional face to face consulting. Smallholder farmers in Fiji currently pay FJD$200 for the service. Combining smart sensors with subscription models of payment have also been tested with encouraging traction to date.
Understanding the requirements of proposed beneficiaries and building a business model around that will enable FarmEd to build a scalable solution through software that achieves the end goal of zero hunger. Existing partnerships for FarmEd to support achieving this goal include the Ministry of Agriculture Fiji (6,000 farmers), The Earthcare Agency (2,000 farmers), Ranadi Plantation Partnership and Purple Chilli- India.
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