Many farms around the world—particularly those in emerging markets—are small, comprising only a few acres. These smallholder farmers continue to follow traditional farming practices because they lack access to knowledge about current practices. Living in remote areas of the world, struggling to nurture crops on tiny plots of poor land, they overuse macro fertilizers and miss the benefits they could gain from micro-fertilizers appropriate for their crops and soil. They also lack a scientific understanding of pest life cycles, and thus often experience crop failure when a preventable infection or infestation arises.
Agro-input companies have the products—including fertilizer, seeds and pesticides—to help these farmers grow healthier, more abundant crops. However, these companies are challenged to reach smallholder farmers with the products and product advice they need. Without access to meaningful market information, these companies struggle to develop aggregate demand forecasts needed to drive costs out of the supply chain and maximize sales.
As a result, field agent visits with individual farmers are few and generally unproductive. Farmers, seeing limited if any results, show no loyalty to the company or the agent. The result is a high level of job frustration and attrition among field agents.