As part of its vision of serving one million farmers by 2020, One Acre Fund commits to expand geographically to a total of 10 countries and to introduce several new products complementing its existing bundle of services. Additionally, One Acre Fund anticipates employing thousands of additional local staff as they grow to serve more farmers. To achieve this scale-up, One Acre Fund will grow in (increase market penetration in existing program areas) and grow out (replicate their proven model in new geographic areas both in existing and new program countries).
Specifically, One Acre Fund will continue scaling its model and growing its impact by:
1. Expanding geographically. Growing beyond its existing work in Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi, One Acre Fund will introduce its model to new geographies, with the goal of operating in a total of 10 countries by 2020. It intends to pilot new operations in Malawi, Uganda, and Zambia to test feasibility of a full roll-out in those countries, as well as another three countries to be determined. It will also test the adaptation of its model to areas with lower population density.
2. Introducing new products and services. One Acre Fund will test the feasibility of several new products and will launch at least one new product in each of the following areas by 2020: soil health, clean energy, and nutrition. These will complement One Acre Funds existing bundle of services to address a wider array of farmer needs and increase impact per farmer.
In One Acre Funds core model, there are seven principal activities carried out each planting season. These activities occur regularly throughout the different planting seasons across all countries of operation.
1. Recruiting and Training Field Officers: To serve an ever growing number of farmers, new field officers (many farmers themselves) are recruited and trained to deliver their bundle of services to farmers.
2. Farmer Group Formation: Volunteer Farmer Group Leaders are trained to enroll groups of 8-10 farmers at the beginning of each season. Farmer groups then participate together at every step of the model (e.g. attend trainings, plant fields, etc.).
3. Financing/Input Loans: Each farmer signs up for an input loan" of improved seed and fertilizer on credit. In addition, farmers have the option to add additional products, such as a solar light to their loan package.
4. Loan Repayment: Farmer repayment is collected throughout the planting season. Farmers flexibly pay any amount at any time, as long as they complete repayment by harvest time.
5. Technology Distribution: Immediately following the prepayment period, One Acre Fund delivers inputs (seed and fertilizer, and solar lights) to farmer groups, through its network of rural delivery points. Inputs are delivered to within walking distance of farmers.
6. Farm Trainings: Field staff deliver weekly, in-field farm trainings to farmer groups. Core trainings focus on land preparation, composting, seed spacing, fertilizer dosing, post-harvest processing and storage, financial literacy, etc. Trainings are supported and reinforced through monthly, on-farm visits by field staff.
7. Crop Insurance: Most farm families receive rainfall insurance, providing a critical safety net in the event of erratic rainfall or drought. In the event of rainfall that deviates significantly from historical averages, One Acre Fund receives and administers an insurance payout on behalf of farmers.
One Acre Funds partners will contribute critical financial resources, connections through their networks, and strategic advice in multiple aspects of managing the program and operations.
To reach farmers in new countries, One Acre Fund will pursue a 4-phase process. At each phase, One Acre Fund closely considers the suitability of its model to local conditions and the needs of farmers. The results of each phase are rigorously assessed before deciding whether or not to proceed to the next. The timing of these phases depends on the planting seasons of the countries in question.
Phase 1: Market analysis - Desk research is conducted on the local context (e.g., agricultural yields, food security, dominant crops, population density, etc.).
Phase 2: Initial scouting One Acre Fund scouts visit the country to meet farmers and local stakeholders in order to flesh out the research gathered in phase 1.
Phase 3: Pilot launch One Acre Funds tests its model in the new context with a small group of farmers and skeleton staff. Phase 3 may go through multiple rounds, spanning two or more years (an initial pilot, followed by a slightly larger pilot, and so on).
Phase 4: Official launch of a new country.
To test new value-creating products for farmers, One Acre Fund will use another 4-phase process, which evaluates potential products on four core criteria: impact (income generated), simplicity (how easy is it to use), adoptability (% of farmers who want the product), and operability (complexity of delivering product). At each step of the process, products that do not meet One Acre Funds high standards are dropped from the pipeline, ensuring that only the highest quality, value-creating products reach its clients. Timing of the phases depends on the type of product (ag vs. non-ag), as well as the local planting season.
Phase 0: Desk research is conducted on potential new products, their impact, their current availability, etc.
Phase 1: Agriculture products are tested at a research station by One Acre Fund innovations staff. Non-agriculture products are tested through farmer focus groups and surveys.
Phase 2: Agriculture and non-agriculture products are tested with a small group of farmers (250).
Phase 3: Small-scale roll-out to 1000 farmers.
Phase 4: Full-scale roll-out to 10,000 farmers.
Seventy-five percent of the worlds population living in poverty depends on farming for their livelihoods. In developing countries, farming employs more people than every other profession combined. Importantly, farming is a proven engine for broader economic growth. In Sub-Saharan Africa, IFAD has estimated that every 10% increase in agricultural productivity lifts seven million people above the $1 per day income level. Enabling smallholders to farm more productively has the potential to end poverty on a truly global scale.
Yet most smallholder farmers live in isolated areas of the world, and do not have access to basic agricultural tools and training. As a result, they struggle to grow enough even to feed their own families, and face an annual hunger season of meal-skipping and substitution. In rural Kenya, 10% of children die before the age of five, with nearly half of those deaths related to hunger and malnutrition. Year after year, farm families find themselves trapped in a cycle of poor agricultural yields and extreme poverty.
One Acre Funds typical client is a smallholder farmer and mother of four children who relies on one acre of land to feed her family. Prior to joining One Acre Fund, she does not grow enough food to feed her family. Two factors of poverty are compounding her problem: physical isolation and financial exclusion. One Acre Fund clients are extremely rural, and insufficient infrastructure in these areas translates to limited access to technical assistance to improve their farming skills. These farmers also lack the capital to purchase adequate seed and fertilizer, and the perceived riskiness of farming means virtually no access to financing.
Founded in 2006, One Acre Fund provides 280,000 rural smallholder farmers with a comprehensive bundle of seed and fertilizer, finance, training, and post-harvest support, and they deliver this complete solution within walking distance of farmers. Farmers working with One Acre Fund achieve a significant increase in their crop yields, raising their income from farm and non-farm activities supported by the model by 50%. Expanding access to this model in Africa has the potential to address rural poverty on a massive scale.