Simple mobile services could improve incomes of 70 million Indian farmers by US$9 billion a year
Average farming family in India lives on less than US$4 a day
Vodafone launches ‘Farmers Club’ service in five countries to enhance smallholders’ productivity
Vodafone today published its Connected Farming in India report* which concludes that the introduction of six simple mobile services designed to help small-scale farmers in emerging markets could boost the farm gate incomes of 70 million Indian farmers by US$9 billion in 2020.
The Vodafone report, based on research commissioned from Accenture Strategy with support from the Vodafone Foundation, has found that the mobile services summarised below could enhance earnings by an average of US$128 a year for almost two-thirds of Indian farmers, achieving a material positive impact in communities where the average farming household lives on less than $4 a day and many farmers struggle to feed and educate their families.
India is one of the world’s largest food producers with more than 200 million people currently estimated to work in agriculture, around 100 million of them farmers and the remainder working as agricultural labourers. In India, around 62% of farmers own less than one hectare of land, significantly increasing their exposure to the effects of crop failure, pests, disease and volatile market pricing.
Vodafone and Accenture Strategy have identified six mobile services with the potential to transform Indian farmers’ lives and livelihoods.
Agricultural information services providing early warning of weather events, information on the best times to harvest and advice on crop techniques to enhance yields. These services could increase an estimated 60 million Indian farmers’ annual incomes by an average of US$89 a year in 2020.
Receipt services to provide greater transparency in daily commodity supply chains, allowing farmers to raise their incomes by improving efficiency and eliminating fraud.
Payments and loans enabling farmers to access simple and secure financial products and services using mobile money payment systems such as Vodafone’s M-Pesa, launched in India in April 2013. Access to highly cost-effective micro-finance and quick and transparent electronic payment systems could provide an annual benefit of US$690 for some farmers in 2020, representing a 39% increase in their average farming income.
Field audit enabling auditors monitoring quality, sustainability and certification requirements to move away from paper records and adopt instead electronic reporting via tablets and mobile data, greatly enhancing efficiency and potentially increasing annual average income by US$612 for some farmers.
Local supply chain enabling small-scale producers to transact with local co-operatives through simple but robust information services and mobile money systems. These could boost some farmers’ annual incomes by US$271 in 2020; a 50% increase on current farming incomes.
Smartphone-enabled services to provide deeper functionality and richer sources of information than is possible using basic SMS and voicemail services. While smartphone penetration is currently low in rural areas in emerging market economies, average device prices continue to fall year-on-year. Advanced and affordable mobile services could lead to an increase in average annual farming incomes of US$675 for more than four million farmers in 2020.
Expansion of the Vodafone Farmers’ Club
Vodafone also announced today that it is launching its Farmers’ Club initiative in four additional emerging market countries – India, Ghana, Kenya and Tanzania. The Vodafone Farmers’ Club is a social business model which offers a range of mobile services to help farmers boost productivity. It was first launched by Vodafone in Turkey in 2009; around 25 per cent of the Turkish population work in agriculture and the Farmers’ Club programme has benefitted 1.2 million farmers, helping them to enhance crop yields and increase farm gate incomes.
Specific Farmers’ Club services offered in each country will vary but will include information services, virtual marketplaces in which farmers can sell their produce and mobile money financial services and products. Vodafone will also develop a variant of the Farmers’ Club concept for farmers in New Zealand, a country with an advanced agricultural industry. Vodafone New Zealand is harnessing the strength of its extensive rural network to connect farms, agribusinesses and rural communities, helping to drive productivity, profitability and innovation.
Vodafone Group Regional Chief Executive for the Africa, Middle East and Asia Pacific region Serpil Timuray, said: “One-third of humanity relies on food grown by 500 million smallholder farmers with less than two hectares of land. Mobile has a critically important role to play in increasing agricultural resilience and enhancing quality of life for some of the poorest people on earth. Our experience in Turkey has demonstrated how mobile services can transform farmers’ ability to increase crop yields, improve efficiency and grow farm gate incomes.
“As the global population continues to expand, farmers have an urgent need to produce ever-increasing amounts of food without destroying habitats or depleting resources in a way which is unsustainable. Smart and forward-looking initiatives such as the Vodafone Farmers’ Club concept can make a real difference in addressing the global challenge of food production and security.”
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Vodafone Group Media Relations:
Note to editors
Link to Connected Farming in India report:
Vodafone is one of the world’s largest telecommunications companies and provides a range of services including voice, messaging, data and fixed communications. Vodafone has mobile operations in 26 countries, partners with mobile networks in 55 more, and fixed broadband operations in 17 markets. As of 31 March 2015, Vodafone had 446 million mobile customers and 12 million fixed broadband customers. For more information, please visit: www.vodafone.com
About the Vodafone Foundation
The Vodafone Foundation’s Mobile for Good programme combines Vodafone's charitable giving and technology to make a difference in the world. Globally, the Vodafone Foundation supports projects that are focused on delivering public benefit through the use of mobile technology across areas including health, education and disaster relief. The Vodafone Foundation invests in the communities in which Vodafone operates and is at the centre of a network of global and local social investment programmes. The Vodafone Foundation is a UK registered charity, registered charity number 10989625.
The Connected Farming in India report is part of a series of reports launched by the Vodafone Foundation looking at the potential social impact of mobile products and services on the communities in which Vodafone operates. Vodafone’s 2011 Connected Agriculture report showed that 12 different mobile services could boost agricultural income in 26 markets by 11% – an estimated $138 billion in 2020.
Improving farmers’ livelihoods in India
Read our Connected Farming research report (pdf, 2.9mb)
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