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How the Haller Foundation is Helping Smallholder Farmers Across Africa

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Jenna Delport
Jenna Delport
I’m a tech writer, world traveller, avocado-eater and dog lover, not always in that order.

The Haller Foundation is a grassroots organisation that guides communities through a holistic four-stage economic development model that is sustainable and environmentally sound. 

The model kick-starts a fragile farming community and, over a 3-year collaborative partnership, educates them to restore their soils, improve their environment and ultimately build the capacity to achieve economic resilience. 

Throughout the process, the organisation partners with the Ministries of Agriculture, Water, Health and local Government. And as an extension of its farmer training, the Haller Foundation uses its app — Haller Farmers — as well as Africa’s increasing mobile penetration, to reach those communities who they cannot reach directly.

It all started in the 1970s when Dr Rene Haller, an award-winning environmentalist, used science and careful observation to restore life to degraded landscapes. 

He began experimenting with nature in an attempt to give barren quarried landscapes a chance at becoming an abundant and diverse ecosystem, a sanctuary for endangered species, and a resource for local African communities.

An example of this is the Nguuni Nature Sanctuary — a former Jurassic shale quarry that was successfully transformed into a 1 km² ecological haven. The park now includes savannah grasslands, wetlands, acacia and palm trees, making it a perfect sanctuary for African wildlife. 

And today, it is home to the Haller Foundation’s health clinic — where over 96,500 patient treatments have been delivered — and an education centre that supports more than 115,000 visits from children.

Dr Haller’s mission wasn’t solely focused on ecology, it was also on laying the groundwork for the local economy’s to thrive —  which is why the wealth of knowledge he gained over 50 years was transformed into a digital tool for smallholder farmers. 

These farmers often have little access to the skills, knowledge, infrastructure and tools that they need to thrive. In Kenya alone, there are more than 5 million smallholder farmers and the majority live on fragile and unproductive land in areas out of reach from the services of agricultural extension workers. 

The Haller Farmers app was initially launched in 2014 and redeveloped as a native, downloadable app in 2020. It was thoroughly tested across Kenya — in conjunction with Ministry of Agriculture officials and smallholder farmers — to ensure that it provides solutions to sustainable small-scale food production and gives users insight into low cost and widely replicable farming techniques. 

All of the information in the app is not only available in both English and Swahili but also affordable, organic and environmentally friendly — designed to transform the land and livelihoods of smallholder farmers.

Haller Farmers was developed by the Haller Foundation in collaboration with Red C and Pearlfisher and was awarded Best Android App of the Year at the 2020 UK App Awards. Download it from the Google Play Store HERE

Staff writer

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