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Wefarm is a peer-to-peer knowledge sharing platform for smallholder farmers. Wefarm users can ask and answer farming questions and share farming tips, via SMS or online, enabling farmers in rural areas without internet access to share information. Wefarm is built around the principle that rural farming communities in developing countries have generations worth of knowledge to share, but lack the tools to do so. Wefarm provides an SMS service based around peer-to-peer, crowdsourcing of knowledge. Users ask a wide range of questions regarding farming techniques and share information around business ideas, or how to improve livelihoods.
History and Pilots
The idea for Wefarm was born in 2010 out of a perceived need for greater access to information for the 500 million smallholder farmers in developing countries. Only approximately 10% of smallholder farmers have any access to the internet but it is thought that around 90% have access to basic mobile ‘feature’ phones.
Kenny Ewan, CEO of Wefarm, and Claire Rhodes, General Manager of the Cafédirect Producers Foundation (CPF), developed the idea for Wefarm together in 2010 as a project for CPF, a UK-registered charity that works with ~280,000 smallholder tea, coffee and cocoa farmers and their organisations on innovative, community driven projects. They developed Wefarm together as a peer-to-peer knowledge sharing platform, giving smallholder farmers a way to access information from other farmers around the world through basic mobile phones and SMS.
Wefarm was piloted, tested and developed over 2011 and 2012 as a CPF project with funding from the Nominet Trust. This initial prototype of the system was tested in partnership with smallholder farming organisations in Peru, Kenya and Tanzania with successful proof of concept achieved - a real-time, multilingual knowledge sharing by farmers in 3 countries with no access to internet.
In 2012 Wefarm was won the Knight News Challenge, run by the Knight Foundation, providing support to build a more robust, scalable version of the proof of concept system. In 2014 Wefarm was an overall winner of the Google Impact Challenge, providing funding to launch Wefarm in several different countries around the world and take it to scale.
In October 2018 Wefarm announced it has reached over 1.1 million users across Kenya and Uganda, with plans to expand into the rest of Africa in 2019, beginning with Tanzania.
Wefarm launched its newly built v1.0 in Kenya in February 2015, and subsequently in Peru in August 2015.
As of late September 2015 Wefarm had a total number of 18,260 users, with over 1 million SMS messages sent through their platform to date, and more than 45,000 answers to farmers questions shared. Around 60% of farmers who sign-up to Wefarm subsequently actively contribute knowledge to the system.
Social goals - users
Wefarm users can access vital information that will improve their livelihoods through increasing crop yield, diversifying farming practices, creating micro businesses, and increasing household incomes.
By sharing information users will also build up a bank of agricultural knowledge that can benefit isolated farmers around the developing world.
Social goals - commercial partners
Food and drink companies, supermarkets, and other businesses with suppliers in Africa and Latin America can improve supply chain transparency and increase supply chain sustainability through partnering with Wefarm.
Wefarm is an SMS-based peer-to-peer knowledge sharing platform that can be accessed using a basic mobile phone. Users sign up for free sending an SMS to a national short-code number in each country of operation. The user then registers their name, and can ask a question by sending an SMS to the Wefarm number.
Questions are crowdsourced via other farmers in the region and around the world, using a voluntary translation tool.
In January 2015 Wefarm was launched as a social enterprise subsidiary of CPF, with a for-profit business model in order to achieve long-term financial sustainability and scalability. Wefarm plans to partner with local, national, and international companies who want to increase sustainability and transparency in their supply chains and access isolated farming markets.
- Emerging Nations Embrace Internet, Mobile Technology
- Cafédirect Producers Foundation - About Us
- Wefarm - Supporting smallholders overseas
- A Nominet Trust Case Study - Wefarm
- Knight Foundation Grants
- Google Impact Challenge
- World’s Largest Farmer-to-Farmer Network, Wefarm, Reaches over One Million Users