March 9th, 2021

B4IG Incubator – Drones for Smallholder Farmers

BASF’s project Drones for Smallholder Farmers aims to build an inclusive business model facilitating access of smallholders to drones for spraying crop protection products under an affordable farm service scheme, in countries that allow the use of drones for agriculture.

By doing this, smallholder farmers could benefit from higher efficiency in crop inputs, reduced working time and minimized potential exposure to agrochemicals, as compared to the application with backpack sprayers. Drone solutions enable high-speed spraying and precision, reducing the amount of crop inputs and water needed. BASF has conducted first pilots, which have shown encouraging results, and has the goal to reach 8000 farmers in Latin America within 5 years.

With a clear vision in mind, the project team was able to make the following achievements during their participation in the acceleration program:

In the context of the Covid-19 situation, in which new priorities must be set for daily work activities, the Incubator provided the needed momentum and helped to focus on an efficient global and regional team structure. This also allowed to secure funding and coverage of the project under the internal sustainability strategy. ​

The program supported the internal alignment on a business model, and the design of an operational approach with distributors and drone providers: Firstly, the peer mentoring session was a wakeup call to understand the complexity of working with micro-entrepreneurs and helped to shape the business concept. Secondly, the team set a deadline to present the model to their mentor who supported them by challenging the model with very valid and concrete recommendations. ​

Lastly, the partnership with CLLA, triggered by the Incubator, helped in starting initial discussions with agrochemical association member companies about application technologies. ​

Among the project team’s next steps are the re-evaluation of the needs of target communities and capacity building.

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