Bundling multiple services – and selling them as a single combined unit – is delivering greater value to smallholder farmers and more economic benefits to any business offering the products. CTA has been proving the case in Eastern and Southern Africa.
Bundling services creates more impact. CTA’s Digitalisation of African Agriculture Report reveals that as a result of selected bundled services, incomes have increased by 20-100%, while yields have increased by 30-300%. In Uganda, CTA’s Market-led User-owned ICT4Ag-enabled Information Service (MUIIS) project has provided farmers with a bundle of ICT-enabled services including agronomic tips, weather alerts and index-based insurance delivered by SMS to farmers’ mobile phones – to build their climate resilience. By February 2019, as the project ended, over 250,000 farmers were digitally registered on the MUIIS database and 3,609 farmers were subscribed to the service bundle. A crop yield assessment showed that for subscribing farmers, maize and soya yields increased by 67% and 60%, respectively. MUIIS is now being run by Ensibuuko, a Ugandan fintech start-up, in collaboration with national farmer organisations. In the first 2019 farming season, the advisory component of the service bundle was sold to more than 7,000 farmers – almost double the subscriptions during the previous four seasons. “This is an example of embedding a sustainability strategy in a development project such that it continues after funding ends,” says Benjamin K Addom, CTA’s Team Leader, ICTs for Agriculture.
Scaling out insurance
Another pioneering CTA project – Scaling-up Climate-smart Agricultural Solutions for Cereals and Livestock Farmers in Southern Africa – has also delivered bundled services to mitigate the impacts of changing weather patterns. In Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe, over 150,000 small-scale farmers have been digitally registered by the project and provided with ICT-enabled weather information, agricultural advice, weather-based index insurance (WBII) – which uses an index such as rainfall to determine pay-outs – and drought-tolerant maize varieties.
Involvement of the private sector has been vital to the initiative’s sustainability. For instance, the project is working with the Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU) and Econet Wireless Zimbabwe to roll out WBII through a mobile-based platform to ZFU’s 1 million farmer members. “Once development funding ceases, projects often fade away; we want to challenge this narrative,” states Oluyede Ajayi, CTA’s Senior Programme Coordinator (Agriculture and Climate Change). “One of the best ways of doing that is to establish a solid investment case for partners such as private sector seed and insurance companies so there’s mutual economic interest.”
To support regional WBII development, CTA enabled regional farmer organisation, the Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions, to conduct research that led to a proposal in August 2019 for the establishment of a regulatory framework across Southern Africa so that risk is shared and individual countries are not left on their own to face climatic consequences.