Farmforce: Connecting Smallholder Farmers to Global Markets
As consumers demand higher standards for food production, smallholder farmers face potential exclusion from markets due to poor traceability and information management. Often, exporters who source from smallholder farmers are unable to meet stringent standards regarding chemical use and farm-level sourcing. But with Farmforce, a farm management and traceability software, that’s all changing.
Farmforce was developed by the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Development (SFSA) and is being commercialized in Guatemala with support from Mercy Corps, SFSA, and Feed the Future Partnering for Innovation, a USAID program that develops public private partnerships to commercialize agricultural technologies for smallholder farmers. Farmforce was developed specifically for outgrowers that source from smallholder farmers, and benefits both smallholders and outgrowers alike. Not only does it provide full electronic traceability to the farm level, it also features many other information management tools. Farmforce provides evidence of Global GAP implementation, tracks pesticide and fertilizer use, maps routes for technician farm visits, helps build trust between producers and exporters through the wealth of shared data captured, and makes training more effective by using data to identify which farms may be improperly applying pesticides or fertilizers.
With its smallholder-specific approach and affordable price tag, Farmforce protects smallholder farmers’ access to key export markets. For example, forthcoming compliance with the US Food and Drug Administration’s Food Safety Modernization Act could threaten Guatemalan smallholder farmer access to the United States’ $280 million snow pea import market. But with Farmforce, Guatemalan farmers will continue to be eligible to export their goods. It also saves time and money, since it is significantly more efficient and accurate than pen and paper recordkeeping. In fact, current users report a reduction in audit preparation time from 14 days to 48 hours.
So far, six companies have purchased Farmforce in Guatemala, covering almost 3,000 smallholder farmers. By 2017, nearly 14,000 farmers will be covered by the software in Guatemala alone. Through Farmforce, Feed the Future Partnering for Innovation and its partners are keeping smallholder farmers connected to global food markets and protecting their livelihoods.
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