Building an effective digital infrastructure for smallholders

Netherlands Food Partnership

Track owner


Despite significant investments in smallholder digitization, the uptake of digital solutions is still low. The root causes that were mentioned during the session were clustered into 4 key areas: 1. Infrastructure as in hardware like smartphones and wifi and policy, legislation, and regulation 2. Data and ownership and mobility issues 3. Business models of digital solutions, including the importance of social impact and the value food, had for consumers and effective user interfaces that make it easy for SHF to use 4. SHF impact refers to catalytic finance, and knowledge levels of digitization amongst SHF donors and organizations, It was agreed that the overall ambition for 2030 and the plan for 2022 should address these 4 areas.


The ambition stated in the call to action was reinforced for 2030. Comprehensive digital services and platforms serving and used productively and profitably by 50 million smallholders, including: 1. Consistent approach to digital and data in national agriculture and food policies
2. Strong capable and sustainable digital service providers serving smallholders
3. Catalytic (public) finance for digital innovation
4. Digital and physical infrastructure, data and service interoperability
5. Appropriate legislation around data ownership and privacy, Open Access, and digital public goods
6. Transparency around smallholder sustainability and impact data for all stakeholders, including governments, value chain players, and consumers
7. In-depth research and case studies on lessons learned in overcoming barriers to digital adoption


This ambition was then translated into a plan for next year, 2022, with three parts:

1. Formulating Design Principles for digitization for smallholder farmers
2. Assessment of Design Principles in short-listed countries, ideally 2 or 3
3. Creating improvement plans on SHF digitization for chosen countries and enhancing the design principles
A prioritized list of pilot countries was made with Zambia, Kenya, Indonesia, and Colombia.

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