Last week, I started thinking about the topic of resilience in the midst of early-stage growth. Shaun’s post from the beginning of the week sparked my thought process around the product iteration developments coming out of Farmerline. I’ve been doing some research on existing ICT providers within agricultural technology and thinking about how Farmerline stands out. On the business side, an early stage company has to be able to prove its commercial viability. After reading the Stockholm Resilience Centre’s definition of resilience, I am thinking about Farmerline’s potential to sustain “periods of gradual and sudden change and to adapt and change shape” (What is Resilience? ).
In order to be successful, Farmerline wants to develop products over time that can adapt and change shape based on the needs of consumers. Right now, Farmerline’s voice technology stands out above other ICT firms working with smallholder farmers because many utilize only SMS messages which many farmers cannot read. This is a period of very dynamic change as mobile messaging apps are developing rapidly, so how can Farmerline’s processes move quickly enough to adapt while still remaining attune to the speed of development within the agricultural industry itself? By focusing both on building farmer autonomy and non-profit monitoring and evaluation, Farmerline’s technology addresses individual and collaborative ways to build the agricultural economy. It is important to address the vital impact NGOs, many of whom have been working locally for many years, can evaluate using Farmerline’s M&E capabilities.
Alloy explained to me that even if farmers have access to market prices and weather forecasts along with connections to buyers, how does that ensure they make the necessary connections to get their product to market? For this stage of the company, Farmerline primarily focuses on opening market access for smallholder farmers through easy and inexpensive communication channels as well as helping NGOs conduct monitoring and evaluation. The technology enables rapid change by speeding up communication pathways, allowing fast change now. This kind of speed may slow down when the next kind of demand for services presents itself. The widely applicable technology brings scalability to the idea, while combining a localized approach could ensure that the product could evolve and adapt based on its local context. I’m curious to hear about how others adapt during the dynamic interplay of sudden and slower change.