To help understand how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting low-and-middle-income countries, RTI conducted a series of internally funded research and development initiatives beginning in June 2020. One such research effort set out to assess how Senegalese farming families had been affected by the pandemic and how the farmer networks they belong to were responding.
Our four-month research study worked with four farmer networks in three regions of Senegal to collect information about how the agriculture sector might be shifting in response to COVID-19 and its impacts. The study identified how the farmer networks themselves are monitoring the shock and provided them with data to test their own assumptions and adapt their future strategies when responding to shocks and stresses.
Leveraging Existing Networks and Partners
From 2015-2019, RTI implemented the USAID-funded Feed the Future Senegal Naatal Mbay (“flourishing agriculture”) project, which helped more than 150,000 farmers in Senegal improve their operations and better connect with market opportunities to sell their products and increase their income.
Through the project, we developed the capability to reach up to 120,000 rural households through 123 farmer networks in the most disadvantaged regions of the country using an open-source mobile platform called CommAgri. The platform enabled networks to track their membership, seasonal production, and use of best practices and inputs, providing a foundation of data on which to base decisions for future seasons. Most of the networks’ data infrastructure remains active today despite the project ending in 2019.