Updated Jun 09, 2020

Precision Agriculture for Development

https://precisionag.org

Jonathan Faull

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Precision Agriculture for Development (PAD) is a global non-profit organization that harnesses technology, data science and behavioral economics to provide targeted information to empower farmers in developing countries to improve their lives.

PAD’s approach harnesses innovations in technology and research to improve the lives of smallholder farmers. We provide a two-way flow of information that delivers customized advice to farmers through their mobile phones. PAD’s unique approach to mobile agricultural advice consists of four components: 1. We deliver simple and effective messages that farmers can understand and act upon. We draw...
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PAD’s approach harnesses innovations in technology and research to improve the lives of smallholder farmers. We provide a two-way flow of information that delivers customized advice to farmers through their mobile phones. PAD’s unique approach to mobile agricultural advice consists of four components: 1. We deliver simple and effective messages that farmers can understand and act upon. We draw on behavioral economics to inform messaging that more effectively influences farmer behavior, and social learning theory that facilitates more widespread diffusion of information across farmer networks. 2. Our systems allow us to customize our messaging to farmers to ensure that the information we provide is useful, timely and actionable. Big data and machine learning techniques make it possible for us to tailor information at scale to conditions revealed in existing and new sources of data. 3. Our interventions are evidence-led. We develop systems that are continuously monitored and constantly improving. PAD’s interventions draw on the power of new research methods to improve agricultural extension. 4. Working through partners who are already providing services to farmers at scale – including governments, NGOs, and for-profit agribusinesses – allows PAD to rapidly reach scale, with extremely low customer acquisition costs and rapidly falling marginal costs per farmer per year.
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Vulnerable Groups
  

Stage 5: Scaling

To date PAD has provided targeted information to 3.6 million smallholders in eight African and Asian countries, and have more than doubled the scale of our reach in each of our three years of operation.

Focus Areas:

Agriculture, Evidence & Impact, Technology and 4 MoreSEE ALL

Agriculture, Evidence & Impact, Technology, Environment, Digital Development, Human Centered Design and ResilienceSEE LESS

Implemented In:

India, Kenya, Rwanda and 5 MoreSEE ALL

India, Kenya, Rwanda, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Uganda and ZambiaSEE LESS

3,581,050
Lives Impacted to Date
8
Countries Implemented In
3,581,050
Customers
212
Employees
$17,300,000
Funds Raised to Date

Problem

An estimated three billion people live in smallholder farmer households [FAO, 2015]. A majority live at subsistence levels, with most surviving on less than $1.25 per person per day. In the eight countries where PAD operates, roughly 200 million smallholder farmers and almost 1 billion total household members subsist on farms typically less than two hectares in size; most live below the poverty line.

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Solution

PAD harnesses technology, data science and behavioral economics to provide targeted information to farmers in developing countries. By providing actionable information to the right people, in the right way and at the right time, PAD helps smallholder farmers improve productivity, increase profitability, and advance environmental sustainability. PAD is pioneering a new model for agricultural extension: delivering to farmers personalized agricultural advice through their mobile phones.

Target Beneficiaries

Smallholder farmers in developing countries, their dependents and the broader communities to which they belong.

Mission and Vision

By providing actionable information to the right people, in the right way and at the right time, PAD empowers smallholder farmers to improve their productivity, increase their profitability, and advance environmental sustainability.

Competitive Advantage

Digital agriculture is a rapidly growing field, with over 150 “mobile agriculture” solutions operating in developing countries. While a few solutions have reached scale and some have high levels of farmer engagement, PAD has achieved both of these objectives, and has done so in only three years of operation. For example, one national government digital extension service has reached over four million farmers, but only 15% of users access additional agricultural content after their first interaction [PAD, 2018]. Other services achieve high farmer engagement but small reach, for example by providing highly customized advice but tending to focus on a single country and few crops with limited scale.

Planned Goals and Milestones

As we catalyse our transition from early stage organization to a mature organization that delivers impact at scale, we intend to multiply our impact on the lives of the poor in three ways: maximizing scale; enhancing the value of our information and services to farmers through the integration of new data and services; and through continued innovation and learning to enhance the precision and applicability of our services.
Funding Goal30,000,000
Projected Cumulative Lives Impacted100,000,000
New Implemented CountriesCongo, Democratic Republic of the, Colombia, Nigeria
RecruitRecruiting for start-up Nigeria office
New FeatureThe impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the physical limitations imposed by social distancing protocols, have severely limited and – in many instances – entirely halted traditional in-person extension services. Yet farmers remain hungry for information capable of empowering them to improve their incomes and sustain livelihoods. Precision Agriculture for Development’s digital services bypass the need for in-person information provision, offering a two-way, low cost and impactful service at scale that empowers farmers despite the impacts of the pandemic. A lack of systematic and reliable data on the evolving needs of smallholder communities acts as a significant constraint for policymakers in mounting an effective and targeted response to the crisis. To address this information deficit, and to inform ongoing program design and content development, PAD is conducting a multi-country phone survey to understand how the pandemic is affecting agricultural production, food security and behaviour. In addition, we will collect data from agro-dealers in a subset of countries to monitor the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on agricultural supply chains. Data and findings will be published on our website, contingent on obtaining the necessary approvals. Specific research focus areas include: Current conditions in agricultural markets and the extent of disruptions experienced by farmers and agro-dealers, including changes in market access, prices, and goods availability; Farmers’ food security and changes in food availability; The availability of information about coronavirus and related public health advice, as well as farmers’ responses to that information; and The impact of COVID-19 on in-person extension systems (in Pakistan only). Current Data Collection Activities: PAD is currently conducting survey operations in India (three sub-national states), Pakistan, and Kenya. We plan to conduct panel data collection in selected locations and anticipate that data collection activities will span the period April 2020 – October 2020, and that additional countries and/or sub-national entities will be added following the fulfillment of review procedures and the commitment of funding. Sampling targets: 1,000 farmers per week in India; 1,000 crop farmers, 100 dairy farmers and 500 agro-dealers in the first round of our survey in Kenya; and 300 Agriculture Officers (extension agents) and Field Assistants in Pakistan. We are currently in advanced talks to expand data collection activities in several countries in Asia and Africa. Please check our website and our social media handles for updates.

The Team Behind the Innovation

PADs co-founders and board members are 2019 Nobel Laureate for Economic Sciences Michael Kremer (Harvard University), Shawn Cole (Harvard Business School), Daniel Björkegren (Brown University), Amrita Ahuja (Douglas B. Marshall, Jr. Family Foundation), and Heiner Baumann (PAD). PAD is led by Chief Executive Officer Owen Barder, who brings to the organization more than three decades of experience as a development practitioner, scholar and advocate.

EXECUTIVE TEAM INCLUDES WOMEN

Milestone

Apr 2020
Lives Impacted
51,556
Apr 2020
New Product Or Service
COVID response
Dec 2019
Lives Impacted
2,054,299
Aug 2016
New Country Implemented In
Kenya
Apr 2016
New Country Implemented In
India
Apr 2016
Created

Supporting Materials

PAD2pp-orientation-null.pdf
PAD-COVIC-RESPONSE-04-orientation-null.23-RS-1.pdf