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Precision Agriculture for Development

PAD is a US-based non-profit organization with a mission to support smallholder farmers in developing countries by providing customized agricultural information and services that increase productivity, profitability, and environmental sustainability. PAD is pioneering a model for agricultural extension: delivering farmers personalized agricultural advice via their mobile phones. PAD implements this model in collaboration with partner organizations and gathers evidence on its impact. PAD aims to improve the lives of 100 million farmers in developing countries with its services.

The initial phase of PAD's work consisted of testing the impact of similar mobile phone-based agricultural extension services in multiple contexts across the developing world. That research found that while careful attention to design and context and careful evaluation was critical, mobile phone-based agricultural extension could increase adoption of appropriate farm management practices, yields, and incomes, with point estimates suggesting a benefit cost ratio of 10/1. Based on our initial evidence around a proof of concept technology, PAD began working with partners capable of scaling and further testing this approach, while simultaneously continuing to build its own research efforts.

A key element of our approach is helping partners with wide reach such as governments, contract farming organizations, telecommunications firms, agribusiness, and NGOs to design, build, evaluate, and improve customized mobile phone-based agricultural advisory systems. We help partners structure and improve their service offerings through incorporation of the latest availability technologies and data as well as insights from behavioral economics and social learning theory. Taking a global approach, we bring experience on what has worked elsewhere to every engagement and continue to optimize to local contexts using A/B testing and rigorous evaluation.

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