Sidhanth Kamath - GreenPath Food - Ethiopia
Empowering smallholder farmers by growing exotic, nutritious, sustainably-produced food.
Meet Scale-Ups Fellow, SidHanth Kamath
Sid was most recently a Program Manager at Ethiopia’s Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA), which supports the country’s 70 million farmers. He spent two years working with new program teams and supporting the ATA’s CEO and senior management on organizational strategy. Previously, Sid was a McKinsey Global Institute Fellow in San Francisco, and a consultant at McKinsey in London focusing on the telecommunications, consumer goods, and infrastructure industries. Sid holds a Bachelor’s in Economics from the London School of Economics and an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management.
The issue: Nearly 80 million Ethiopian farmers not using their land to full potential due to poor agronomic practices and lack of market access.
The world’s smallholder farmer population – two billion people operating 500 million small farms in the developing world – is frequently cited as a solution to the food demand problem, due to the high potential to increase crop yields on their land. Smallholder farmers also stand to benefit greatly from increasing their crop productivity, as increased productivity will likely increase their incomes and improve their overall livelihoods. Unfortunately, most farmers today are being introduced to conventional agriculture techniques that use chemical fertilizers and pesticides. While conventional agriculture techniques can increase incomes for smallholder farmers, they are expensive and continue to become more expensive and can have detrimental effects on land, water source, and the environment if not properly managed.
In Ethiopia, smallholder farmers regularly do not use their land to its full potential in terms of tonnage or profitability because of poor agronomic practices and lack of market access. These farmers, representing 83 percent of the nation’s 89 million people, see yields that are 20 to 50 percent lower than what is found with on-farm trials and adjusted income/capita is only $470/year compared to $709 for all of Subsaharan Africa.
The solution: A powerful, efficient, affordable engine-powered thresher.
Smallholder farmers have a competitive advantage that they have not yet been able to fully benefit from – small farm areas and large families mean that these farmers can plant by hand which allows them to develop intercropping systems and water-retention swales that produce significantly higher harvests per square foot than large farms that can only be farmed with machinery.
To help farmers capitalize on this opportunity GreenPath designed the GreenPath Nucleus Farming Platform System for communities of smallholder farmers. These farmer-support platforms will be set up in the midst of farming communities, and will house the technologies and expertise needed for local smallholder farmers to transition to farming using high-yield sustainable agriculture techniques also referred to as “permaculture.” Platforms will also act as harvest aggregation and storage points, including cold stores. Each platform is designed to support 100 families that farm one hectare on average.