D2F Scale up: Way forward to integrate ICT in Plantwise

Convergence of Direct2Farm and Plantwise

CABI has received funding from the UK Department for International Development (DFID) to examine the complementary role of ICTs with Plantwise in two selected pilot countries over 3 years. This will involve the scale-up of D2F through development of an enabling IT infrastructure; the development of locally-relevant content hosted on a database; the provision of a subscription mobile agri-advisory service to farmers in the pilot countries; and the monitoring & evaluation of the service, compared with other mass extension methods (including Plantwise clinics).

The project will be used to identify and report on existing service outline features, user needs and service gaps in the mobile agro-advisory sector. CABI’s D2F programme will be developed as a complementary extension method linking with plant clinics in the Plantwise programme. The comparative outreach, cost-effectiveness and expected impact of agro-advisory services with and without a mobile/ICT component will be measured. The project will attempt to evaluate best practice in utilising mobile phones as an effective channel for agro-advisory services.

It is anticipated that the project will provide solid evidence as to the impact and effectiveness of mobile agro-advisory services. Further, it will provide guidance on the choices for sustainable business models that will make the services attractive over the long terms to end users and business partners alike.

India and Kenya have been selected as the 2 pilot countries for the scaled-up service due to the Plantwise programme being established, strong mobile operator presence, rural mobile penetration, links with Government Ministries and existing partnerships with content providers. It is hoped to launch the first scaled-up service in Spring 2014 in Kenya, with the India service launch following shortly thereafter.

During a recent visit to Kenya, CABI’s mobile development team met with a number of potential partners in the scaled-up service and made good progress in formulating the service design for the country. During the next few weeks the design will be finalized and partnerships will be solidified to enable the service to be developed ready for launch.

About direct2farm
Direct 2Farm is an Agriculture Infomediary Service aimed at making high quality and reliable information accessible to farmers, enabling them to “optimize resources”, and take “informed decisions” resulting in profitable farming activity supporting livelihood improvement.

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