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FMO’s Capacity Development Program provides a EUR 500,000 convertible grant to Milan InnoVincY (MI), an inclusive business start-up that develops digital solutions to enable smallholder farmers (SHF) improve their production. The support comes from the MASSIF Fund, which FMO manages on behalf of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
MI combines spatiotemporal methodologies, on the ground verification methodologies, and machine learning techniques to identify large numbers of smallholder plots. Coupled with geo-data, weather data, business intelligence and smart analytics, these methodologies offer great potential for improving food security and access to finance. As Martin Steindl, Manager of FMO’s Capacity Development Team, mentioned: “Geo-data can be an enormously powerful tool to improve resource efficiency and increase agricultural yields. To reach the last mile and include smallholder farmers in commercial value chains, we need to support exactly this type of innovative Ag-Tech companies.”
MI aims to achieve the following:
- SHF will be recognized as plot owners and receive actionable advice related to their specific plot (size and location);
- SHF can use the information to better manage the agricultural performance of the plot (but also treat a cluster of plots as a virtual plantation);
- Agribusiness input suppliers can better identify clients and tailor products to the identified needs (plot centric);
- Aggregators, traders & processors (potential buyers) can better identify and map suppliers and trace product origins & quality;
- Financial service providers can better understand the historical performance of farmers and link this knowledge to credit scoring and/or develop innovative products for weather insurance.
By 2022, MI aims to digitalize more than one million plots across Sub-Saharan Africa. Mr. Pieter Christiaan van Oranje, Chairman of the Board of MI states: “We are not only excited to receive FMO’s financial support to grow our company, but also to get access to FMO’s client network. We are confident that we will make a substantial contribution to transform agricultural value chains across Sub-Saharan Africa. Professor Patrick McSharry, Chief Analytics Officer at MI, commented: “This is a worthy opportunity to help agricultural communities in African countries by introducing techniques and solutions which harness sophisticated Big Data Analytics and Machine Learning approaches.”