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Sustainability 25 July 2022

African Agri Innovation Reaches International Shores

OneFarm Share Platform, a partnership between Standard Bank and HelloChoice, demonstrates a unique approach to alleviating food waste while addressing hunger

Standard Bank has taken another step in mobilising global financial and corporate institutions to align with international development organisations and create sustainable impact in Africa’s critical agriculture sector.

Standard Bank Group Agriculture Ecosystems Lead, Niki Neumann, attending the Treasurers Roundtable 2022 Conference in Washington DC, demonstrated the unique ability of the group’s OneFarm and OneFarm Share initiatives to have an impact across the agriculture value chain.

“Agriculture is one of Africa’s biggest sectors, contributing 25 percent of the continent’s GDP, 75 percent of domestic trade and 65 percent of employment. The sector is setting the continent up to be the world’s next breadbasket,” says Neumann.

“Agriculture touches the lives of majority of the African population. Research has shown that investment in agriculture is twice as effective at reducing poverty than any other sector. Through innovating across the supply chain with our ecosystem partners, we are striving to build sustainable solutions that serve the agri value chain and its participants. In this sector, development and commercial economic growth go hand-in-hand," says Neumann.

Treasurers Roundtable is an annual conference attended by senior treasury and finance leaders from mission-driven organisations around the world, including World Bank, USAID, and Stanford University.  The theme for this year’s event was ‘The Agile Treasury – Powered by Collaboration and Innovation’, with keynote addresses and panel discussions focusing on providing insights to current and relevant issues impacting international non-governmental organisations.

With a commitment to driving Africa’s growth, Standard Bank had the distinct honour of delivering a presentation on the OneFarm strategy within the context of supply chain optimisation and innovation in agriculture. The strategy is underpinned by an ethos of collaboration and ecosystem development – and leverages innovative technology to deliver meaningful solutions for value chain participants.

Across the continent there is a challenge of poverty and pervasive production and supply chain challenges, resulting in wide-spread and growing food insecurity.  

“We have the potential to produce enough food on the continent. While the focus remains on driving production efficiencies on farms, there should be an equal amount of focus on the value chain to find solutions that can help reduce waste and inefficiencies” says Neumann.

According to Neumann, there are numerous pain points and challenges along the supply chain impeding progress and full-realisation of the available opportunities within Agriculture. These include access to markets for small holder farmers, operational complexity, agri supply chain proximity, small holder offtake challenges such as stringent commercial specifications, margin pressure, and lack of digitisation and data. Food waste is one of the negative consequences of these inefficiencies, with an estimated two million tonnes of fresh produces going to waste along the supply chain. 

The broader OneFarm strategy leverages key strategic relationships, innovative technology, and a deep desire to make a meaningful difference, to solve for a number of these challenges. In accordance, two case studies were presented to the conference attendees, the OneFarm Share platform in South Africa and the OneFarm intiative in Uganda. 

“OneFarm Share was born out of the need to address the ever-widening food provision disparity, the enormity of which became even more pressing during the height of the pandemic and recent crises that affected parts of the continent,” explains Neumann.

OneFarm Share, powered by a partnership between Standard Bank and Agri FinTech HelloChoice, is a digital marketplace platform which connects food requests from registered charities to available (excess) fresh produce from local farmers, which results in the distribution of nutritious food to those in need and a decrease in food waste.

Since launching in February 2021, OneFarm Share has distributed over 9477 tonnes of fresh produce to deliver 38 million meals, feeding over one million people across South Africa. 

With 378 contributors currently on the platform, of which 302 are emerging farmers (94 female), 57 are commercial farmers, 12 are food producers and 7 are market agents, OneFarm Share aims to reach 10 000 tonnes of fresh produce delivered in 2022. 

In Uganda, OneFarm looks to support smallholder and emerging farmers. The solution leverages strategic corporate partnerships and innovative technology to deliver a  platform that connects these farmers to financial services, as well as other relevant products and services. This B2B2C technology-driven platform enables a transparent and efficient supply chain, providing cross value chain visibility and transparency, as well as a rich data sources of a traditionally undigitised sector.

Maureen Harrington, Head, Client Coverage, Financial Institutions Group, USA noted, “The OneFarm platform is of great interest to our NGO and development focused clients. Integrating smallholder farmers into commercial value chains has been a focus area for these organizations for many years. Access to finance has been a key constraint and commercial banks need to be part of any sustainable solution. Standard Bank’s commitment to the OneFarm initiative is a wonderful way to collaborate with our customers to mutual benefit and to provide a needed service to small holder farmers in the countries where we work.”

“By bringing this simple, yet highly effective system onto a world stage, we believe that at least some of the lessons we have gleaned can offer a key to making agricultural supply chains more efficient, enhancing margins for farmers, while alleviating some the persistent hunger that affects people across the world,” Neumann says.

"Through the creation of multi-stakeholder partnerships such as those that can be fostered at the Treasurers Roundtable, we have been able to make a significant impact across the agriculture supply chain, reducing wastage, facilitating the distribution of fresh produce to vulnerable communities, and creating a new revenue stream for farmers through the OneFarm Share Platform,” she says.