Leveraging data to help smallholder farmers thrive
In the same way digitisation will transform and disrupt many industries, it has the potential to dramatically change the way 100 million smallholder farmers in Southeast Asia manage their plots and crops.
In Indonesia, oil palm cultivation has become important to rural livelihoods, particularly amongst smallholder farmers (“smallholders”). The focus of this Hackathon is independent smallholders, who have a significant role in the expansion of oil palm cultivation onto marginal lands or those not officially zoned for agriculture, and thus are a growing driver of deforestation and the resulting loss of biodiversity and increased greenhouse gas emissions.
Thus, helping these smallholders access information, credit and services and adopt sustainable production practices not only delivers improvements to their livelihoods, but can also result in more sustainable outcomes.
At this Hackathon, we considered and explored how data that is already collected by various ecosystem actors can be used to achieve better efficiency and productivity, and demonstrate how data sharing can be done at scale. The Hackathon was a step toward accelerating Grow Asia’s path to create a positive impact for 10 million farmers by 2020.
Established by the World Economic Forum in collaboration with the ASEAN Secretariat, Grow Asia brings together companies, governments, NGOs, and other stakeholders to help smallholder farmers improve their production and livelihood through access to information, knowledge, markets, and finance.
Many companies are addressing the issue of “traceability” - collecting, recording and analysing data on the the plantations, the farmers, and the middlemen in the immediate area around a mill. If ecosystem actors can appreciate the value of complementary data and the incentive to share their data, new partnerships will benefit smallholders.
How might we design a data application or platform and an appropriate business model for the mutual benefit of the ecosystem actors as well as the smallholders? Read more.
Low productivity is a key factor leading to smallholders growing larger areas of under-productive oil palm rather than intensifying production. Training and technical assistance in agriculture inputs and real time information, will increase smallholder productivity and efficiency.
How might we provide the right information and training to smallholders, so they become more productive and efficient, which in turn aids the sustainable intensification of their plantations. Read more.
Smallholders are often too small for commercial banks and too large for micro-finance schemes. They do not have credit history and cannot supply reliable management information to access finance. Their only option is to access informal credit, which comes with high interest terms and short tenure.
How might we devise a new credit scoring mechanism for banks or commodity buyers extend credit based on smallholders’ data? Read more.
Fresh fruit bunches (FFB) must be delivered to a mill and processed within
48 hours after harvest before significant yield loss. Smallholders who do not have their own means of transport rely on local traders or the closest mill and are subject to unforeseen weather conditions.
How might we improve the timeliness of information and coordination
of transportation options, so smallholders can make informed decisions? Read more.
Thursday, 12 April
Participants geared up for the hackathon by getting an overview of the palm oil ecosystem and having conversations with key stakeholders.
They learned about the challenges faced by the smallholders and also met other like-minded entrepreneurs and innovators.
Hackathon and Pitch Day
Friday, 20 April – Monday, 23 April
Teams designed and prototyped their solutions to benefit smallholders, and got input from subject matter experts and industry mentors.
The hackathon culminated in Pitch Day, where 22 teams presented their solutions to a panel of expert judges.