The Internet for farmers without Internet

Project Breakthrough: “Mobile Internet is rapidly becoming a primary source of knowledge for rural populations in developing countries. But not every one of the world’s 500 million smallholder farmers is connected to the Internet – which means they can struggle to solve daily agricultural challenges. With no way to access to information on things like planting, growing and selling, farmers in Asia, Latin America and Africa simply cannot grow. Many live on less than a dollar a day and don’t have smartphones to ask Google what to do.

London-based startup WeFarm is the world’s first free peer-to-peer network that spreads crowdsourced knowledge via SMS messages, which only need simple mobile phones. Since launching in November 2015, its aim has been to give remote, offline farmers access to the vital innovative insight, such as crop diversification, tackling soil erosion or changing climatic conditions. Billing itself as ‘The internet for people without the internet’, WeFarm strongly believes in the power of grassroots information. That’s why it costs nothing.

“With WeFarm we want all farmers in the world to be able to search for and access the information they need to improve their livelihoods,” Kenny Ewan, CEO tells us. The seeds for his idea were planted after many years working with indigenous communities in Latin America, based in Peru. “To me it makes perfect sense to allow farmers to connect with other farmers in order to find solutions to their problems. These farmers are experts in agriculture, and they come up with low-cost, innovative solutions, that are easy to implement.”

Farmers send questions by SMS to a local WeFarm number. Then they are connected to a huge crowdsourcing platform. The network’s back-end uses machine-learning algorithms to match them to farmers with answers. This data creates a sort of Google for agriculture…(More)”