Connecting smallholder farmers with global producers

Kgaogelo Letsebe
By Kgaogelo Letsebe, Portals journalist
Johannesburg, 08 May 2017
SAP's Rural Sourcing Management Solution is an integrated, cloud-based solution running on SAP Cloud Platform.
SAP's Rural Sourcing Management Solution is an integrated, cloud-based solution running on SAP Cloud Platform.

SAP, the global application software firm, has introduced a solution that is made to support the connection of smallholder farmers in developing countries with global producers; providing transparency, accountability, and access to financial services.

The SAP Rural Sourcing Management Solution is an integrated, cloud-based solution running on SAP Cloud Platform. According to the company, it enables agribusinesses as well as consumer product companies to track their produce from the farm to the factory through a combination of mobile and desktop access.

Brett Parker, MD of SAP Africa, says the solution is tailor-made to support the growth of smallholder farmers in developing nations and meet the world's need for sustainable food production.

"By 2050, the world's population will approach 10 billion people. To sustain such a large global population, the planet's agriculture output per acre must double while at the same time maintaining the highest sustainability standards to meet consumer demand. In fact, fair trade sales are expected to triple to $25 billion by 2020, creating a huge challenge for governments, retailers and large multinational food producers."

Parker adds the solution supports the digitisation and simplification of both producer and farmer operations. "Mobile access to business applications provides critical information to producers, enabling them to capture information from small-scale farmers who generally operate in remote areas where other forms of technology might be limited. Farmers can in turn access their own business transactions, enjoy increased transparency to pricing, utilise mobile instead of cash payments and have added traceability, all aimed at closing the information gap between farmers and producing companies."

According to a 2016 United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation sustainability report, 500 million smallholder farmers produce nearly 80% of all food consumed in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. It states agriculture is the foremost employer in Sub-Saharan Africa, accounting for nearly two-thirds of the total labour force.

A predecessor of the solution was developed and piloted by an SAP research division, in a development partnership with the Deutsche Gesellschaft f"ur Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH under the framework of the program on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The solution is available to all African countries, including SA, but has only been formally piloted in Uganda, with Kenya earmarked as the next country.

"The partnership between SAP and BMZ effects a marked improvement on the income and livelihoods of small-scale farmers by bringing transparency, efficiency and accountability to agricultural value chains. With the central collection and monitoring of real-time data, the initiative has also opened the door to financial services for African smallholder farmers. With more than half the African population involved in agriculture, we are confident that initiatives such as these will bring about lasting positive change to the lives of Africa's citizens," noted Parker.