There are 450-500 million smallholder farmers globally. Increased urbanization and a growing global demand for food, make the productive capacity of these farmers essential to feeding the world’s growing population. It is well documented that smallholder farmers face a financing and information gap. Smallholder farmers, like all farmers, want to maximize their yields and increase their incomes. To do this they need access to information on best practices, ways to identify and purchase quality, and links to markets. Digital solutions, particularly digital financial services, provide a potential tool to sow the path for financial and information services to reach smallholder farmers. If done properly, there is a significant commercial market opportunity to deliver customized services that are relevant to smallholder farmers and fairly evaluate risk for providers. This course will explore the growing variety of digital tools being deployed both directly to smallholder farmers and to others in the agricultural value chain. It will examine how these tools are being deployed in commercially viable and, most importantly, relevant ways to smallholder farmers directly and with partners who rely on the farmers’ outputs.
This course is designed with several audiences in mind: 1. Financial service provider professionals responsible for expanding services (credit, savings, insurance, payments) to both rural and/or agricultural market segments; 2. Agribusiness professionals who work directly with smallholder farmers and are interested in digital channels can increase their smallholder partners access to financial services; and 3. Agricultural and financial inclusion development experts responsible for integrating new digital tools that support broader impact on their program goals.
Students attending this course will explore the current state of play for digital tools serving agricultural sectors and smallholders in emerging markets and evaluate how delivery of these services are working or failing to deliver. Students will work to identify remaining unknowns on how digital tools could improve delivery of crucial services to smallholder farmers and last mile organizations that work with them. As an additional outcome for this course participants will be able to apply their learnings to their own work to further cultivate the continued growth of digital tools that serve smallholder farmers.