Press Release: Acceso Acquires Leading Digital Field Agent Extensio To Transform Smallholder Agriculture in Latin America and the Caribbean
By combining forces, Acceso and Extensio will offer smallholder farmers an unparalleled and holistic solution, providing them with both digital and in-person information and training, agricultural inputs, affordable credit, and guaranteed market access to boost productivity and increase income levels in an efficient and cost-effective way.
Of the 130 million farmers in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), 60 million are smallholder farmers, most of whom are disconnected from critical information for decision making and connections to quality markets to sell their crops. There is still a high incidence of poverty (48.6%) and extreme poverty (22.5%) in rural areas despite progress from 1990 to 2014.
Empowering smallholder farmers through robust food value chains that connect them to formal markets is a catalyst for rural economic development. A critical step to developing these value chains is ensuring access to high quality technical assistance and market information, which is abundant, but often not accessible.
The acquisition of Extensio by Acceso was compelling for both organizations due to their mutual impact-driven strategies and complementary entrepreneurial approaches. Their combined capabilities will allow the organizations to conduct in-person agricultural training complemented with customized and timely digital information that improves farmer production aligned to market needs.
Acceso is a social business builder with social businesses in Colombia, El Salvador, and Haiti. These businesses work along entire value chains to ensure that smallholder farmer production reaches large domestic food companies (supermarkets, retailers, restaurants) as well as international markets. Acceso’s businesses have generated over $50M for 15,000 farmers and farm workers through targeted technical assistance and inputs, crop aggregation and processing support, and guaranteed market linkages.
Acting as a digital field agent, Extensio employs mobile communication to provide farmers and actors in agricultural value chains with timely information for decision making: weather and pest forecast and management, production risk mapping, best agricultural practices, and market trends. Extensio’s services have reached 19,000 farmers directly and 60,000 indirectly in Mexico, Colombia, and Ecuador with proven increase in incomes and adoption of better practices. Among Extensio’s past clients are Modelo, Bavaria, Alternare, Agrana, and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center.
“Adding Exensio’s pioneering digital capabilities will enable us to partner with thousands of new farmers, enabling them to benefit from Acceso’s end to end value chain solutions. We are thrilled about joining forces with Extensio and look forward to providing hardworking farmers in LAC the best possible suite of technical assistance capabilities in order to boost their production and improve their incomes in a holistic, low cost way,” said James Jenkin, CEO of Acceso.
“Acceso is entering a period of strategic growth in terms of scale and impact. Extensio brings deep digital communications and technology expertise that will allow Acceso to expand our reach and offering, and I look forward to what our teams will accomplish together,” commented Frank Giustra, founder of Acceso.
“From day one when we met Acceso, we perceived perfect alignment in our mission, passion, and values. Our teams bring completely complementary skillsets while we work towards our mutual goal of tackling rural poverty. We are excited about bringing the Extensio and Acceso offering to philanthropic funders, non-profits, and other private agricultural organizations seeking to improve smallholder production in LAC and later globally,” stated Diana Popa, founder and CEO of Extensio.
“Truly this is a winning combination: adding Extensio’s ICT platform to Acceso’s model of deep engagement with smallholder farmers should result in enhanced agricultural productivity and market access, therefore improving famers’ livelihoods and quality of life,” said Virgilio Barco, Latin America Director of Acumen. (Note: Acumen owns 20 percent of Acceso’s social business Acceso Colombia.)
The organizations will focus on implementing Extensio within Acceso’s existing social businesses, scaling their reach to tens of thousands of new farmers, and licensing Extensio for use by other private, non-profit, and government organizations through service contracts.
Photo courtesy of Marco Verch.