Digital agriculture solutions have the potential to provide farmers with improved access to markets, information and farm equipment. However, many farmers, including those with disabilities, still face barriers to accessing these benefits. Agritech companies and other practitioners often lack best practices and recommendations that would allow them to develop inclusive services, including for farmers with disabilities.
The GSMA has developed the “Inclusive Digital Agriculture Tool”, a new self-assessment tool to help practitioners such as agritech solution providers, agribusinesses and donors design and scale inclusive services for digital agriculture. The tool aims to realise digitisation benefits for more underserved communities such as farmers with disabilities, and empower farmers with decision-making tools and opportunities to earn a livelihood and improve their well-being.
This latest resource is one of few available in the area of inclusivity within agricultural value chains as very limited research has been undertaken so far. It builds on our recent report Inclusive Digital Agriculture: Making value chains work for farmers with disabilities which highlights the key barriers to inclusion farmers with disabilities in low- and middle-income countries face, including:
Systemic barriers: Procedures, policies and practices that do not consider persons with disabilities and therefore lead to exclusion from effective and equitable participation in value chain activities.
Attitudinal barriers: Behaviours, perceptions or actions from communities or organisations that discriminate against farmers with disabilities.
Environmental barriers: Characteristics of infrastructure (physical or digital) and tools that prohibit farmers with disabilities to participate in agricultural activities.
The tool complements the recommendations presented in the report aimed at ensuring that agricultural value chains are disability-inclusive:
Embed disability inclusion in the organisation’s strategy by working with farmers with disabilities or organisations of persons with disabilities.
Understand the barriers facing farmers with disabilities and leverage mobile technology to address them.
Address barriers to digital inclusion for farmers with disabilities.
What is the “Inclusive Digital Agriculture Tool”?
The tool contains an activity checklist that consists of best practice recommendations on how to strengthen the inclusivity of agriculture services that digitise procurement, deliver digital advisory and provide agricultural digital financial services (Agri DFS), although many of the recommendations could be applied to other digital agriculture use cases too. The recommendations are presented following the product development life cycle, from set-up and user experience (UX) research through product development and scaling.
Each recommendation contributes to making the digital solution inclusive to all farmers, regardless of ability, characteristic or personal factors such as experiences and education. The aim of the tool is to draw attention to some of the most common oversights around disability inclusion when designing a digital agriculture service.
Who is the primary audience for the tool?
This tool was developed for organisations that design and deploy digital agriculture services, for example mobile network operators, agribusinesses, agritechs and donors.
It is most beneficial for organisations that are currently planning or have already started technical development for a digital agri extension, financial or procurement service as it will help determine which best practice recommendations to follow to strengthen disability inclusion.
However, the tool can also be used by organisations with a live digital agriculture service as it can help them assess how inclusive the service currently is and identify areas to strengthen the inclusivity aspects of the service in future iterations of the product.
How do you use the tool?
Users of the tool are walked through an activity checklist for each stage of the product development life cycle. Notes and a log of past activities can be added to the relevant sections. Answers to the checklist’s questions result in a score that indicates how well users have incorporated or are planning to incorporate best practice recommendations in their service development process across any of the three use cases currently covered by the tool. For areas that scored low, we encourage users to revisit the recommendations, the activity checklist and their notes. By doing so, they can identify next steps and opportunities to strengthen disability inclusion in the technical development process or generate ideas for the next iteration of the service.
Applying disability inclusive and universal design concepts during product development can ensure that products and services benefit all farmers. For example, our report shows that services targeted at farmers with visual or hearing impairment can also be beneficial for farmers with low literacy levels and elderly farmers. This tool can help tackle barriers to the digital inclusion of farmers with disabilities. Reducing the formerly mentioned barriers to digital inclusion of farmers with disabilities presents a commercial opportunity not only for the mobile industry but also for agribusinesses to expand to a formerly untapped market.
You can access the self-assessment toolkit via the below form.
We are aware that some parts of the GSMA website and this form may not be fully accessible, and we are working to improve this wherever possible. Should you require any support or are having any accessibility issues completing the form, please do get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would also love to hear from you regarding your experience in general in making services more inclusive and/or in using this tool.
THIS INITIATIVE IS CURRENTLY FUNDED BY THE UK FOREIGN, COMMONWEALTH & DEVELOPMENT OFFICE (FCDO), AND SUPPORTED BY THE GSMA AND ITS MEMBERS.