Digital Solutions for Agriculture Market Systems Responding to COVID-19
Conducting a rapid analysis
In an effort to support market system actors as they navigate the challenges and opportunities of digital transformation in the age of COVID-19, USAID’s Bureau for Resilience and Food Security commissioned a rapid analysis that focused on three key objectives:
- Identify and analyze trends driving the adoption of digital tools in agriculture market systems in response to the global pandemic.
- Provide examples of such digital solutions across market system actors.
- Provide concrete and actionable recommendations for USAID Missions and implementing partners to ensure that digital tools can be used effectively to increase resilience in the face of future threats.
The Digital Frontiers Project conducted the rapid analysis from mid-January to mid-March 2021. This process included a literature review and qualitative interviews with 66 stakeholders, including USAID Missions’ Feed the Future teams, subject matter experts, implementing partners, private-sector service providers and local agriculture market actors. The team focused on eight countries selected based on a representational breadth of geographies and digital ecosystem maturity: Bangladesh, Ghana, Guatemala, Kenya, Malawi, Nepal, Niger and Senegal.
Once the pandemic began, market actors had to adapt quickly, adopting a variety of digital tools and services to overcome various disruptions. The rapid analysis revealed the following trends:
- Few new digital solutions launched in the countries covered by this assessment. The research team did not find many digital solutions developed specifically in response to the pandemic, except for a few newly launched e-commerce platforms.
- Digital service providers and agribusinesses accelerated, adapted and increased their digital services. The team identified actors that accelerated and/or adapted their services to include solutions for market actors continuing their operations through the pandemic. For example, agribusinesses that work with farmer groups to buy and trade produce accelerated the launch and introduction of new functionalities on their business-to-business (B2B) platforms. Additionally, digital advisory service providers adapted their bulk short message services (SMS) to include new information on locations to purchase inputs or open marketplaces.
- Most market actors increased their use of existing digital solutions and in some cases adopted them for the first time. There were market actors who, as a result of the pandemic, adopted existing tools and services, such as WhatsApp and digital payments, for the first time and/or increased their use of them.
For a full overview of the findings and recommendations from this analysis, access the Digital Solutions Used by Agriculture Market System Actors in Response to COVID-19 report.
Tools for USAID and implementing partners
The research team created guidance documents for USAID Missions and implementing partners, demonstrating how they could support the adoption and use of digital tools and services by agriculture market actors in response to COVID-19 and beyond. To access the full documents, click on the links below: