The Shamba Calendar: A Digital Platform Enhancing Climate Resilience And Nutrition For Smallholder Farmers In East Africa

Living on a farm might sound idyllic to some – but it’s also a full-time job, a sun-up till sun-down non-stop litany of logistics. Smallholder farmers have to wear multiple hats, and are beholden to fluctuating market demands and an increasingly erratic climate. Many smallholder farmers, particularly in developing countries, live in poverty, face food and nutrition insecurity, and are barely able to keep their families afloat. They rely on rainfed agriculture and traditional marketing channels to sell their produce, which tends to be more abundant during the rainy season resulting in market floods, postharvest losses, and low income. This highlights the need for functional market solutions to prevent exploitation by middlemen and ensure better income for farmers to meet competing needs such as family health care and education.


Shamba Calendar was designed to help smallholder farmers in rural areas with agricultural productivity and profitability. It is a demand-driven digital platform that provides an assured market to smallholder farmers so that they can focus on production. Going beyond the business-as-usual model, it fixes AI-determined market prices for produce, which are then graded at standardized prices to ensure zero food loss due to quality. As the primary beneficiaries, the smallholder farmers have year-round access to the centrally positioned Shamba Connector that allows them to sell their produce to interested parties. As a one-stop shop, the Shamba calendar provides access to value chain-specific agronomic information including climate-smart agricultural practices integrating indigenous crops for climate resilience.


According to the FSPN-Africa, previous iterations of data-driven apps did not address the low rates of digital literacy and online know-how for many smallholder farmers. In response to this, the Shamba Calendar supports farmers through tech savvy Shamba Connectors and Lead Farmers to bridge digital divide at farm and market levels. At the farm level, smallholder farmers organized into groups of 15 to 20 members have access to digital extension services through the Lead Farmers. The trained Lead Farmers ensure that all participating farmers are registered with the digital platform and facilitating value chain-specific in-person training and farm demonstrations.


At the market level, Shamba Connectors aggregate, grade, and enlist smallholder farmers’ produce on the Shamba Calendar’s agricultural marketplace for purchase for ease of redistribution. With this approach, smallholder farmers access diverse market opportunities digitally despite the low digital literacy. Upon registration, information on the crop variety, inputs used, quantity of produce, and percentage of surplus available for sale vs. household consumption is collected to achieve food traceability and inform future research on suitable seed and input recommendations for maximum yield with minimum environmental footprint. One of the biggest environmental drains on the food supply chain is loss of food because of lack of reliable market. Reducing food loss at farm level through market availability will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Any surplus food that does not reach the market is refined into organic manure and used in the farms to improve soil health – a promising substitute for fertilizers.

The goal of Shamba is to enable smallholder farmers in Africa is to adopt nutrition sensitive agriculture and climate smart agriculture, and access diverse agricultural markets for health and wealth. By working out the market demand, it enables smallholder farmers to maximize quality food production throughout the year. And smallholder farmers have access to more digital agricultural information such as weather, quality seeds, inputs, and agronomic information. With the click of a button, farmers are able to sell their produce for a better price, with less waste – and everyone leaves happy.