Mobile communications to transform smallholding farmers’ livelihoods in emerging markets
Vodafone and Accenture research indicates potential $138 billion addition to developing world farmers’ incomes by 2020
LONDON; Oct. 10, 2011. Vodafone and Accenture (NYSE: ACN) today announced the findings of a ground-breaking new research programme intended to measure the impact of mobile communications on the lives and prosperity of farming communities in some of the world’s poorest countries.
The research, which has been welcomed by Oxfam, assesses the potential benefits of new mobile data services such as weather forecasts, commodity market information and mobile banking for smallholding farmers operating in marginal circumstances.
The global population is expected to reach more than 9 billion by 2050, requiring a 70% increase in food production above 2006 levels. Most of this increased yield will have to be achieved within emerging economies, many of whose farmers operate on a small scale and are highly exposed to crop failure and adverse commodity price movements.
Additionally, many farming communities in emerging markets are economically excluded with little or no access to capital or banking services. They therefore lack the means to trade (beyond basic barter arrangements), borrow to acquire new assets or invest to provide their businesses with sufficient resilience to withstand macro-economic changes.
The report, ‘Connected Agriculture’, concludes that 80% of the potential $138 billion uplift in emerging market farmers’ incomes will be derived from the growth of:
- mobile money transfer systems, such as Vodafone M-PESA, which provide farmers with the ability to exchange, save and borrow small amounts of capital as well as take out short-term insurance policies;
- mobile information services providing detailed and localised weather forecasts, crop prices and resource management information; and
- helpline services giving real-time guidance on issues such as pest control and the challenges linked to climate change, including water scarcity.
The research also concludes that a further uplift in agricultural incomes will emerge as a consequence of the use of advanced mobile communications technology in food production and distribution. This includes installing simple low-cost wireless data devices within storerooms, delivery vehicles and distribution centres to enable emerging market farmers and food producers to develop detailed logistics and tracking systems. These in turn will allow farmers and producers to optimise the movement of crops and produce from farms to consumers’ homes as well as gather detailed field data.
Vodafone Group Chief Executive Officer Vittorio Colao said: “Smallholding farmers in emerging markets are both vulnerable and vital: without a steep increase in their productivity, it is hard to see how future generations will avoid global food shortages. Mobile is already transforming hundreds of millions of people’s lives in ways unimaginable only a decade ago. This report now provides vivid evidence of how mobile can make a material difference in tackling the global food gap."
Peter Lacy, Managing Director, Accenture Sustainability Services, Europe, Africa and Latin America said: “Mobile networks are now more widely established in emerging markets than traditional fixed networks and have the potential to transform market-led agricultural practices. We have identified 12 mobile communications opportunities which can drive real efficiency in food and agriculture value chains, increasing farmers’ income by 11% and reducing waste and environmental impact.”
Dame Barbara Stocking, Chief Executive Officer, Oxfam said: “With more than 1.5 billion people worldwide dependent on smallholder agriculture - a group that includes half the world’s undernourished people - mobile telephony could have significant potential to help the poorest farmers towards food and income security. We particularly welcome the focus that this research places on how core business, rather than corporate philanthropy, can operate to have a positive developmental impact.”
The full Connected Agriculture report can be downloaded here
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Notes to Editors
Vodafone commissioned Accenture to undertake the research presented in ‘Connected Agriculture’, based on Accenture’s expertise in the mobile telecommunications sector and its capabilities in sustainability services and solutions. Each of the 12 mobile service opportunities were modelled across 26 countries in Africa, India, Australasia, Europe and Middle East where Vodafone is present either through subsidiaries, joint ventures or associates.
- The report provided the following breakdown of the principal benefits of mobile telecommunications applications: Mobile information services could lift incomes by $51bn and require 174 million mobile connections.
- Mobile financial services could increase incomes by $50bn based on a required 240 million mobile connections.
- Mobile agricultural trading services could generate $35bn, assuming 133 million mobile connections were established.
- Supply chain and data services could save over 2 mega tonnes of CO2 emissions and reduce food waste.
Vodafone is one of the world’s largest mobile communications companies by revenue with approximately 382 million customers in its controlled and jointly controlled markets as at 30 June 2011. Vodafone currently has equity interests in over 30 countries across five continents and more than 40 partner networks worldwide. For more information, please visit www.vodafone.com.
Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, with approximately 236,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries. Combining unparalleled experience, comprehensive capabilities across all industries and business functions, and extensive research on the world’s most successful companies, Accenture collaborates with clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. The company generated net revenues of US$25.5 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2011. Its home page is www.accenture.com.
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