IMPROVED AGRICULTURAL INCOMES AND HIGH-QUALITY OUTPUT FOR COTTON GROWERS IN MOZAMBIQUE
In Mozambique, cotton farming is a way of life, and cotton is an important agricultural export commodity. Most farmers work on small farms, generally below one hectare and mostly on rain-fed cotton cultivated by hand. However, cotton production in Mozambique is characterized by decreased productivity, low price, and low returns. The issue is further amplified by the challenges of irregular rainfall patterns, intense droughts, and natural disasters such as cyclones and floods. Yield and quality concerns are accentuated by unscientific farming practices and an unorganized approach to cultivation. Poor soil health and biodiversity loss have hastened the problem.
Plexus Cotton is the largest cotton producer in Mozambique. The company joined hands with TechnoServe, an international non-profit organization, to reduce farmer poverty and ensure a steady source of income for rural households.
The coalition partnered with Cropin in 2016 and pledged to change the game by leveraging technology. The digitization project impacted 120,000 farmers from seed to sale and removed uncertainty in exports. It led to data-driven, sustainable, and effective cotton farming practices.
BRIDGING THE OPPORTUNITY-EXPERTISE GAP
The journey to cotton production is dotted with challenges for farmers and farming tech companies. The main concern is reduced crop yields and surmounting quality concerns with no new improvement in farming. The absence of access to timely information on cotton growing acreage and crop quality has resulted in gaps in yield forecasting, which has further crippled business. An inefficient production process has led to missing traceability information, hindering global trade.
DRIVING CHANGE FOR THE FARMERS, THE ECONOMY, AND THE COUNTRY AT LARGE
Plexus Cotton/TechnoServe, in partnership with Cropin, launched a project in Mozambique with an objective to optimize the Sustainability -Traceability matrix in the cotton sector. Cropin began work with smallholder farmers to ensure better utilization of inputs, namely seeds and chemical sprays while maintaining end-to-end traceability for CMIA (Cotton Made in AFRICA) certification
Technology to digitalize the cotton farming process
Cropin helped digitize farms, farmer data, and the area audit process on a single platform. This was done by employing digital agri-experts in village centers. Field agents were trained to use Smartfarm, a farm management solution from Cropin. Planning and monitoring of input distribution were implemented by recording seed, chemical, and bag distribution - this ascertained minimum wastage of inputs. Seed and chemical distribution data from farmers were utilized for assessments. Field agents were assigned, and their output was tracked, leading to complete transparency in operations.
These trained field agents assured farmers of consistent and timely knowledge dissemination and value-added services. They received regular product feature update alerts and product user manuals. Harvest data captured by the agents were analyzed with state-of-art technologies. This developed forecast methodologies to accurately predict yield. Thus, digitization efforts culminated in encouraging traceability and product movement. A seamless data organization and management on the platform guaranteed easy access to information. Thus, the project ensured accountability and ease of doing business.
24X7 advisory and consulting
Cropin enabled numerous advisory initiatives to be set up to empower farmers during the cotton farming process. Under this initiative, Package of Practices (PoPs) was shared with farmers, and the field team provided training on best practices for cotton crops. Cropin also provided weather-based advisory and promoted climate-smart agriculture. In addition, farmers also benefitted from timely and dependable pest and disease alerts. The bonus was the platform's easy adaptability and seamless integration to the local context.
The initiative provided training to over 180 field officers to update their activities on the app. It also offered 24x7 assistance to farmers through satellite and weather input-based crop advisory. Under the program, product feature update alerts and product user manuals were shared with field officers to guide them in cotton farming.
THE RESULT: ALL IN THE NUMBERS
The project impacted the lives of 120,000 smallholder farmers by digitizing operations from seed to scale. Traceability improved global trade, as the uncertainty element was addressed. The project went a long way in reducing the poverty levels among smallholder farmers and enabled them lead better lives.
- Digital record = Transparency, accountability, and ease of doing business
- Seed and chemical distribution data collection = Routine assessment for quality
- Crop advisory = Farmer assistance during weather risks, pest infestations, and an outbreak of disease
- Better planning and forecasting of harvests = Improved logistics, procurement, and storage