Meet the Farmers Using a Mobile App to Monitor their Progress Towards Sustainability [Video]

The Farming Solution project leverages the digital revolution to empower farmers to become sustainable while contributing to their community.

The Farming Solution project leverages Solidaridad’s innovative apps to empower farmers to become sustainable while contributing to their community.

Palm oil is a key ingredient in products like toothpaste, soap, and cleaning products such as washing detergent. But much of the world’s palm oil is unsustainable. This is because a lot of palm oil is produced by smallholders, who often lack the resources to track their progress towards sustainability and to note their specific needs. This means that they tend to receive one-size-fits-all solutions to the myriad of unique difficulties facing them. In large scale solutions, small farmers, such as those in Colombia, fall through the cracks.

Putting control in their hands

We want to change this. With the support of Henkel, Solidaridad aims to place control in the hands of the smallholders. Farming Solution is a mobile app that oil palm farmers in Colombia can use to record and share vital information on their farming practices. By leveraging this publicly available digital tool, farmers can work with the buyers of their products to seek customized interventions. This means that they can accelerate their pace towards sustainable production.

But don’t take our word for it. Meet the farmers at the heart of this project in this immersive video. Now put on some headphones and join us in Colombia to see how digital tools in the hands of smallholder farmers can help to transform rural communities at the origin of supply chains, and make available sustainable products for consumers around the world.

The Colombian Context

Colombia is the fourth largest producer of palm oil in the world and the biggest producer in Latin America. As a result, Colombia is an important part of the global supply chain. And palm oil is important to Colombia as well. In Colombia, palm oil is considered a peace crop. This is because it provides a viable alternative for illicit crops and a lifeline out of poverty for victims of the conflict. As a result, in the fields of crop science, sustainability and innovation, Colombia serves as an important example to palm producing countries. However, by 2019, only 27% of Colombia‘s palm oil production was certified or verified under Voluntary Sustainability Standards (VSS). Such standards include the RSPO, ISCC, Rainforest or Organic.

The Colombian palm oil sector’s goal is to have 75% of all palm oil production verified/certified as sustainable by 2023. With the support of Henkel, Solidaridad wants to help them achieve that.

According to OECD figures, in 2020 around 52% of the population of Colombia has access to mobile internet and only 26% in rural areas. We overcome this in the work we do with Henkel by making sure:

  1. All our apps are usable offline. So farmers can download the apps (at the COOP, processing plant or at other farmers’ place) and work without internet connection on their smartphone.
  2. With the help of Henkel we work with Digital Kits for the technicians. These boxes allow to receive internet in remote areas and undertake mobile data collection and blended learning on the spot.
  3. Also we install satellite internet at lead farms and fresh fruit collection points. This allows participants to overcome the lack of coverage in some places that are strategic for our implementation work with Henkel.

Learn more about Henkel’s work in palm oil here.

Learn more about Solidaridad’s work in palm oil here.