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Scaling up Sustainable Agriculture through Technology: The Rainforest Alliance Launches Farmer Training App

The Rainforest Alliance announces the launch of the Farmer Training App, now available for download by farmers in Africa, Asia, and Latin America in the Google Play store for Android devices.

Using Dimagi Inc.’s Commcare platform, the Rainforest Alliance has developed the Farmer Training App to support the roll out of the recently revised certification standard set by the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN). The 2017 SAN Standard becomes mandatory for all farms, groups, and cooperatives currently certified through the Rainforest Alliance/SAN system in July 2017. The Farmer Training App will enable smallholder farmers to learn more about the new criteria within the revised standard and maintain their certification through best practices. The Rainforest Alliance aims to leverage the Farmer Training App to increase climate-smart agricultural practices on smallholder farms in remote rural areas.

Via internet service, farmers can download the app and connect to other farmers, sharing best practices and pictures. Offline, a series of agriculture training modules and videos are accessible, on topics ranging from occupational health and safety to ecosystem conservation. Farmers can also do a quick test to measure their farm against the 2017 SAN Standard, or to record training sessions.

“The Rainforest Alliance is working diligently to improve training and technical assistance to rural farming communities. However, there aren’t always enough local technicians available to visit every farmer so we’ve been looking at different tools to improve our training capacity,” said Ria Stout, Director of Sustainable Agriculture at the Rainforest Alliance. “Being able to use this app offline enables us to reach many more farmers in all remote areas of the globe. This is very important, because these farmers have very limited access to the internet and to personalized training.”

“That’s the exciting part of this project; that we can reach millions of farmers with one simple tool. It is our hope that technology can help bridge a gap and enable smallholder farmers to leave a sustainable farm for future generations,” said Stout.

Beyond the app, farmers can also still use Rainforest Alliance’s training website, www.sustainableagriculturetraining.org, where a wide variety of practical training tools is hosted in 6 languages.

Smallholder farmers’ livelihoods depend on predictable weather patterns. With an increasingly unstable global climate, these farmers are faced with a growing challenge to produce enough food for their families and communities. Smallholder farmers produce up to 80 percent of the food supply in Asian and sub-Saharan Africa, regions where population growth is expected to mushroom to 5.2 billion in Asia, and to 2.8 billion in Africa by 2060. The challenge to feed such expanding populations cannot be underestimated.

Climate-smart agricultural best practices help farmers increase their yields, without the need to expand their farmland, and with reduced inputs. With low-cost smartphones or tablets, which are widely available globally, and with telecommunications infrastructures growing in developing nations, agricultural technology is an increasingly vital way to share information. Connecting rural farmers to climate-smart agricultural practices, each other, and the world is an important step towards climate adaptation and ensuring food security.

To request a username and access to the Farmer Training App, please contact FarmerAppHelp@ra.org.

Ramon nut, a sustainable superfood - photo by Sergio Izquierdo

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