Yesterday, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) announced that some 1.7 million small-scale farmers in Kenya, Nigeria and Pakistan will soon receive personalized agricultural advice through their mobile phones. This project is intended as a means to improve their incomes, food security and resilience to economic shocks caused by COVID-19.
The innovative initiative is one of 11 proposals to receive initial funding under IFAD’s Rural Poor Stimulus Facility (RPSF). It is the direct a result of a new partnership between IFAD and Precision Agriculture for Development (PAD), a global non-profit organisation co-founded by Nobel Prize winning economist Michael Kremer.
Using mobile phone technology, farmers will receive low-cost, customized advice to improve on-farm practices, input utilization, pest and disease management, environmental sustainability and access to markets.
Ifad.org reports that the recently launched RPSF aims to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the livelihoods and food security of rural poor people. Funding for these first 11 initiatives, amounting to US$11.2 million from the RPSF plus $5.2 million in co-financing mainly from governments and implementing partners, will benefit an estimated 6.7 million small-scale farmers in developing countries who are adversely impacted by the economic slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.