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SAP Rural Sourcing Management is a new solution that was created to support the connection of smallholder farmers in developing countries with global produce buyers / Photo: AMA

German IT giant connects African farmers with international buyers


SAP, the global company that develops enterprise software for companies large and small, has launched a management system to support and grow East Africa’s smallholder farming sector. 
SAP Rural Sourcing Management is a new solution that was created to support the connection of smallholder farmers in developing countries with global produce buyers, providing transparency, accountability and access to financial services.

SAP has announced the launch of its SAP Rural Sourcing Management solution connecting smallholder farmers and suppliers in rural areas with the supply chain of global agribusinesses and consumer products companies.

SAP Rural Sourcing Management is an integrated, cloud-based solution running on SAP Cloud Platform. This solution enables Agribusinesses as well as Consumer Products companies to track their produce from the farm to the factory through a combination of mobile and desktop access. This supports the digitisation and simplification of both producer and farmer operations.

Mobile access to business applications provides critical information to producers, enabling them to capture information from small-scale farmers who generally operate in remote areas where other forms of technology might be limited.

Farmers can in turn access their own business transactions, enjoy increased transparency in pricing, utilize mobile instead of cash payments and have added traceability, all aimed at closing the information gap between farmers and producing companies.

A predecessor of the solution was developed and piloted by an SAP research division, in a development partnership with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH under the framework of the develoPPP.de program on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

Before the solution became generally available, SAP and Barry Callebaut, the world’s leading manufacturer of high-quality chocolate and cocoa products, co-operated in a custom-development project helping Barry Callebaut enable sustainable cocoa farming.

Dr Gilbert Saggia, Managing Director: East Africa at SAP Africa, said the SAP Rural Sourcing Management solution is ideally suited to support the growth of smallholder farmers in East Africa and help meet the world’s need for sustainable food production.

“By 2050 the world’s population will approach 10 billion people. To sustain such a large global population, the planet’s agriculture output per acre must double while at the same time maintaining the highest sustainability standards to meet consumer demand. In fact, fair trade sales are expected to triple to USD25 billion by 2020, creating a huge challenge for governments, retailers and large multinational food producers.”

Mobile access to business applications provides critical information to produce buyers, enabling them to capture information from small-scale farmers who generally operate in remote areas where other forms of technology might be limited / Photo: AMA


Meeting global sustainable food demand

Based on available data, 500 million smallholder farmers produce nearly 80% of all food consumed in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. In East Africa, about 60% of the region’s 260 million residents depend on agriculture for their livelihoods, with the sector contributing as much as 30% of the region’s GDP. However, smallholder farmers often lack access to technology and financial services, limiting their ability to grow their business and increase productivity and output. SAP Rural Sourcing Management links farmers digitally to the agriculture value chain through a suite of mobile business applications running on SAP Cloud Platform that support inclusive agricultural chains.

Strategic Alliance with GIZ, expanding development partnerships

In December 2016, a strategic alliance was announced between the BMZ, GIZ, and several private sector partners – including SAP – working together to strengthen smallholder agricultural businesses in Uganda. This new strategic alliance will focus on improving agricultural productivity and quality, supporting and monitoring business processes of smallholder farmers, and improving their access to financial services.

Participating SAP Rural Sourcing Management customers can access local implementation services including master data preparation, system configuration and configuration of mobile phones. With the support of GIZ, producer organizations can also access training for their staff end-users.

The strategic alliance is based on previous successful partnerships between SAP and GIZ starting in 2009 with the African Cashew Initiative, which aimed to improve farmer incomes and livelihoods, advance African cashew nut quality and production, increase local processing capacity and improve market linkages along the value chain.

The initial project saw a Rural Sourcing Management prototype implemented in Ghana and Burkina Faso. Further initiatives in Uganda, e.g. with the Uganda Coffee Farmers Alliance and an expanded African Cashew Initiative in Ghana, secured the involvement of a total of 17 supplier organizations across nine countries. The projects involved 100,000 small-scale producers growing six crops: cashew, shea, coffee, cocoa, rice and sesame.

Report distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of SAP Africa.

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