Precision Agriculture for Development
Precision Agriculture for Development (PAD)
Precision Agriculture for Development (PAD) is a non-profit organization seeking to support smallholder farmers in developing countries through customized information delivered through mobile services. Headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, PAD operates in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, and Ethiopia.
PAD’s main model uses mobile phone-based extension to deliver personalized advice to farmers. The agronomic advice includes information on topics such as soil maintenance, pest control, and planting schedules in order to increase “productivity, profitability and environmental sustainability”. PAD employs a network of agronomists, field officers, and call center operators to synthesize farmer data to support customizable service. PAD uses a data-driven, iterative approach to refine the style and quality of its advice.
According to the organization’s 2018 Annual Report, 858,000 smallholder farmers worldwide used its services, a 150% increase from the previous year.
PAD was founded by Harvard Professors Michael Kremer and Shawn Cole, Brown University Professor Dan Björkegren, and agricultural funding expert Heiner Baumann in 2016. Before then, Kremer and Cole had separately conducted research on how information delivered through mobile technology could improve agricultural yields in developing countries. Both identified that farmers were receptive to technocratic agricultural advice and recognized the power of mobile systems to deliver such information.
In 2016, 28,325 farmers in India and Kenya used PAD services. By 2017, projects in Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Pakistan helped increase the number to 345,727. In 2018, PAD started operations in Bangladesh.
Model and Initiatives
PAD often collaborates with local governments and organizations, using data and research to improve its services. For example, in 2018, it partnered with Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation to create a free instructional text message system concerning “monitoring, identification....and control measures” for the fall armyworm pest.
Although delivery channels and crops vary among countries, PAD’s mobile services generally are composed of interactive voice response (IVR) hotlines, short messaging systems (SMS), and mobile applications adapted to local contexts. PAD leverages randomized A/B testing to help improve the content and customization of messages.
In late 2018, PAD's India Team released a smartphone app called “Krishi Tarang” for the Google Play Store. The project mirrors the organization’s IVR service, but adds the ability to see and submit images.
Funding and Recognition
As a 501c3 status non-profit organization, PAD relies on public and private partnerships. It has received donations from the following groups:
- Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
- Dioraphte Foundation
- Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation
- Jasmine Social Investments
- Mulago Foundation
- Sall Family Foundation
PAD’s projects have been featured in the Financial Times and The Standard. The organization's research has appeared on the World Bank's "Development Impact" blog and in lectures at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
- "Where We Work". Precision Agriculture for Development. 2019-06-17. Retrieved 2019-06-18.
- "Coffee Board Goes Digital to Help Growers". THe Hindu Business Line. 2018-04-09. Retrieved 2019-06-17.
- "PAD 2018 Annual Report" (PDF). Retrieved 2019-06-18.
- "Our Team". Precision Agriculture for Development. 2019-06-18. Retrieved 2019-06-18.
- Cole, Shawn (2013-01-03). "The Value of Advice: Evidence from Mobile Phone-Based Agricultural Extension". HBS Working Knowledge. Retrieved 2019-06-18.
- "Harnessing ICT to Increase Agricultural Production" (PDF). 2014-03-06. Retrieved 2019-06-17.
- Wamuswa, Nanjinia. "Fight against fall army worm goes mobile". The Standard. Retrieved 2019-06-18.
- "Krishi Tarang - Apps on Google Play". play.google.com. Retrieved 2019-06-18.
- "Our Funders". Precision Agriculture for Development. 2019-06-18. Retrieved 2019-06-18.
- Kremer, Michael (2014-02-19). "Netflix for Agriculture? Digital Technology for Development – Kapuscinski Development Lectures – what top thinkers think about development". Kapuscinski Development Lectures. Retrieved 2019-06-18.
- McKenzie, David (2016-02-16). "Weekly links Feb 16: when scale-ups don't pan out the way you hoped, syllabi galore, do you suffer from this mystery illness? and more..." World Bank Blogs. Retrieved 2019-06-18.
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