Proximity Designs: Powering Up Farm Advice

Website / Documentation
Short description

We are accelerating our shift to digital to put game-changing agronomy advice and services at small farmers’ fingertips.

Description

Myanmar’s five million smallholder farms are particularly vulnerable to the economic effects of COVID-19 and are already facing immediate challenges, with ‘stay at home’ orders and travel restrictions interrupting agricultural markets and trade, farm labor, remittances, access to affordable inputs and farm finance. Disruptions in farming will have long-term implications as smaller yields create food shortages in families, further destabilizing rural communities and jeopardizing food supply for the country’s 54.6 million people.

To protect food production and build resilience, farmers need uninterrupted access to agronomy advice, technology and capital – services that we, Proximity Designs, provide. Over the past two years, our delivery channels have been undergoing a significant transition, from in-person to digital, as farmers have increasing access and more familiarity with mobile technology. We introduced digital campaigns for our agronomy practices and our Facebook page/chatbot have quickly become a reliable source of information for farmers; 40,000+ new households have already adopted our income-boosting techniques through these channels.

With COVID-19 spreading unpredictably in rural areas, and during a time of physical distancing and disrupted access to communities, we must fast-track our shift to digital. We plan to move all of our agronomy advisory services online, designed for varying levels of digital literacy. We will use a combination of digital channels – Facebook chatbot, video call, tutorial videos, IVR – to teach farmers techniques, diagnose problems and recommend treatments. One of the most innovative areas will be tele-agronomy, which enables farmers and our agronomist to interact via video chat to scout fields, analyze challenges and provide solutions for pest and disease outbreaks. We are also changing our selling method for our soil health test and bio-pesticides: designing online, contactless sales, delivery and cashless payment processes that are convenient, affordable and lower-risk. We plan to reach an estimated 60,000 new farm households (about 270,000 women, men and children) with our new, innovative digital agronomy services in the next year.

Some background: Proximity Designs is a social business that created one of Myanmar’s largest agricultural services platforms — farm technology, agronomy and finance — to help small family farms be productive and profitable.

Target country

Myanmar

Project type

  • Alleviation
  • Climate
  • Education
  • Food
  • Wellbeing

Support needed

  • Business Strategy
  • Operations
  • Raising capital
  • Sales
  • Technical expertise

What we need help with

We are actively raising capital to build out and scale our digital agronomy services to reach 60,000 new farm households in the next year. Please get in touch with us to learn more about our impact, future plans and funding needs. We are also open to advisors: professionals that have spearheaded a transition from traditional ag-extension services to digital/tele-extension, or have experience developing e-commerce, where it did not previously exist, for a market with poor infrastructure and high mobile/Facebook penetration serving a low-income population.

Best way to get in touch

Please connect with Giulia Zino, Head of Donor Relations at gzino@proximitydesigns.org.

Project status

  • Launched