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Farmer holding mobile and solar technology

Using Mobile Tech to Shape Smallholder Farming in Rwanda

With a simple feature phone, Rwanda's smallholder farmers have access to the quality farming inputs and training they need to grow more food and earn more money.

Until about two years ago, our field staff served close to a million farmers through weekly group meetings, in which roughly 40 or so farmers would congregate for agricultural training and to order farming supplies. In 2020, we rolled out the use of USSD (a text messaging-based service available on basic mobile phones), through which our customers could get services straight from their phones. USSD functions are important tools that give farmers access to farming and market information and allow them to sign up for products and services.

This year in Rwanda alone, over 600,000 farmers enrolled for farm supplies and other products, like trees and solar lights, using USSD, demonstrating the scale of its adoption and the pivotal role that simple technology can play in farming.

FO Phocas, USSD Enrolment in Rwanda FO Phocas, USSD Enrolment in Rwanda

Field officer Phocas Ngaboyisonga, from Gakomeye in Kayonza District, goes through our product catalog with farmers. The catalog lists all the products on offer in a particular season and corresponding prices.

FO Phocas guides a farmer to enroll for products for Season 22A via USSD, Rwanda

Phocas guides a farmer to enroll for products for Season 22A via USSD.

FO Phocas guides a farmer to enroll for products for Season 22A via USSD. FO Phocas guides a farmer to enroll for products for Season 22A via USSD - Rwanda

In 2020, we scaled up farmer enrolment via USSD in Rwanda from 40% to 100%, removing the need for large group interactions and paper contracts.

Farmer - Emmanuel Nzabonimana - USSD Enrolment - Rwanda Farmer Emmanuel Nzabonimana from Juru in Kayonza enrolls for products on his mobile phone. Farmers Joselyne Umutoni and Consolee Mukandimukuri from Gakamba Cell in Bugesera District enroll for planting supplies on their mobile phones. Farmers Joselyne Umutoni and Consolee Mukandimukuri from Gakamba Cell in Bugesera District enroll for planting supplies on their mobile phones.

By enabling farmers to self-enroll through USSD with limited assistance from a field officer, we are augmenting our staff’s management capacity to several hundred farmers as we look to achieve our aim of working with 10 million farmers by 2030 across Sub-Saharan Africa.

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