From start to finish: a vision of interconnectivity

At the moment, the agricultural industries of African countries exist in relative isolation. Imagine peasant farmers digitally connected to the value chains of the global food industry. How could this happen? A guidebook.


Ich bin ein Alternativtext
Baden-Württemberg, Waldenbuch: "Ritter Sport" is one of Germany`s biggest confectioners. Photo: Christoph Püschner/Agentur Zeitenspiegel

Tanja Reith

Tanja Reith is a solution manager for the Agribusiness vertical in the SAP Industries organization. She has over 20 years of experience in go-to-market and solution management roles for enterprise software, engaging closely with customers and partners across different industries such as agribusiness, consumer products, and financial services. Tanja’s ambition is to drive shared value resulting in business value to our customers while making a social impact and improving people’s lives.


When eating their chocolate bar in the afternoon, maybe together with a cup of coffee, people always tasted and enjoyed the flavor of both, but they usually did not think about the origin of the cocoa or coffee beans. Where and how were the beans harvested? How did they make their way from a cocoa plant in e. g. Ivory Coast to the supermarket shelf in Berlin? Did the farmers who originally planted the trees and harvested the fruit get a fair price? Can we be sure that children did not suffer from spending their time in unpaid harvesting work instead of going to school? This has changed: more and more socially conscious end consumers are looking for answers to these questions and consider respective certifications when they buy their preferred brand.


70 percent of the global cocoa produce comes from West Africa, mainly Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana.


This change in end consumer behavior is a key driver for consumer goods companies to increase the transparency and traceability of their food products – even across company boundaries. Let’s stay for a moment with the chocolate example: 80% to 90% of the world cocoa production comes from 5 to 6 million smallholder farms. 70% of the global cocoa produce comes from West Africa, mainly Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana. How can chocolate producers and consumer products brands obtain visibility and prove that the ingredients in their products are a result of sustainable farming and certified? How can they connect with smallholders being the very first supplier in their agricultural supply chain and integrate them into the value chain?


To help address this challenge SAP launched in 2017 SAP Rural Sourcing Management, a mobile technology solution supporting and growing smallholder famers in developing countries connecting them with global producers and providing transparency, accountability, and access to financial services. A predecessor of the solution was developed and piloted by an SAP research division, in a development partnership with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. The project was conducted under the framework of the program on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). As a next step SAP and Barry Callebaut, the world’s leading manufacturer of high-quality chocolate and cocoa products, cooperated in a custom-development project helping Barry Callebaut enable sustainable cocoa farming, before the solution finally became generally available.


(c) Foto SAP
Tedious work of harvesting, Photo: SAP

SAP Rural Sourcing Management is a cloud-based solution for enhanced management of sustainability data through digitally recorded information on producers, their farms, and their communities at every level of the value chain. Field agents collect data on farmer registration, purchasing and processing of produce, and transportation records. These field agents can work for local cooperatives, local or regional producers but also global traders or producers who want to directly connect with the smallholder farmers as their original source of agricultural commodities. Now how can the SAP Rural Sourcing Management solution help smallholder farmers to connect with the value chain of agricultural commodities and what is the related (social) impact?


The app also allows the integration to cashless payments, as well as access to information about the transactions.


Let’s look at the example of Kalangala Oil Palm Growers Trust, one of our customers in Uganda representing smallholder oil palm growers in Kalangala district in Lake Victoria. Deliveries of fresh palm oil fruit bunches are recorded by an employee using a registered smartphone. The confirmation of delivery and payment can then be sent to the farmer’s private phone by SMS. The app also allows the integration to cashless payments, as well as access to information about the transactions. The organization can simplify its administration processes and tremendously increase its data availability and accuracy. This will help to cut administration . In addition to the direct business impact for the organization, the project also opens smallholder farmers the doors to financial institutions allowing access to agricultural input loans or financial services including . Banks and insurance companies are starting to use data recorded by the app as a “track record” and proof of income. Input loans such as seed and fertilizer will help smallholder farmers to increase yield and with that achieve a higher and secured income enabling them to pay school for their children and improving their livelihoods.


SAP is supporting the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals across the 25 industries that SAP is serving. For the agribusiness industry, UNSDG #2 Zero Hunger seems like a big goal, especially as experts estimate food production must grow by 70 percent to feed 2.2 billion more mouths by 2050. SAP offers a designated solution portfolio for this industry and SAP Rural Sourcing Management is one of these solutions. SAP agribusiness solutions are designed to help our customers in different segments and different geographies to increase sustainability as well as food safety and food security. The solutions help to carefully manage the entire food supply chain from farm to consumer with the support of new digital technologies, such as blockchain, artificial intelligence or machine learning.


Here is an example how cutting-edge block chain technology can improve transparency and food safety and at the same time help e. g. fishermen in Indonesia to improve their incomes and lives: One of the largest seafood companies and SAP customer Bumble Bee Foods, provides seamless transparency for their tuna products, from the handline on the boat to the plate of the consumer. Bumble Bee’s consumer app links the individual tuna can with essential information about species, population size and associated quota allowance, catch method, potential by catch, and whether the fisher is even Fair Trade Certified. Stories about community engagements, book donations, or providing safety equipment offer insights into how this type of sustainable supplier engagement creates positive social impact for the local villages. Since 90 percent of the capture fisheries comes from small-scale fishers, Bumble Bee allows consumers to buy the impact they want to make.


These are just a few examples how in a digitized world, enterprises are connected with every part of their supply chain – up to smallholder farmers in developing countries reaching the bottom of the pyramid. If you want to learn more about SAP agribusiness solutions or SAP Rural Sourcing Management, you can find more information on or contact

Go back

Similar articles

More than just a seat at the table

By Welthungerhilfe

Africa is home to the world’s youngest and fastest growing population. For many young people, agriculture could offer a job perspective. But to improve the living conditions and job prospects of young people in rural areas, political reforms and investments are desperately needed, as these people will be at the centre of agriculture and agricultural development in the future.

Read more

The human finca

Interview with Marvin Antonio Garcia Otero

In Eastern El Salvador, campesinos are cultivating a self-image to encourage rural youth to remain in rural areas. With help from Caritas, they have adjusted the cultivation methods to their soils and traditions - Marvin Antonio Garcia Otero,the deputy director of Caritas of the Diocese of San Miguel believes this is the best way to prevent rural exodus and criminality.

Read more

“Corona exposes the weaknesses of our nutritional systems"

Interview with Arif Husain (WFP)

The United Nations plan a Food Systems Summit - and now the Corona-Virus is dictating the agenda. The Chief Economist of the UN World Food Programme takes stock of the current situation: a conversation with Jan Rübel about pandemics, about the chromosomes of development - and about the conflicts that inhibit them.

Read more

Do we have to dare a new food system?

By Dr. Felix zu Löwenstein (BÖLW)

Lack of seasonal workers and virus explosion in slaughterhouses, rising vegetable prices, climate crisis – all this demonstrates: Our food system is highly productive and (at least for the rich inhabitants of planet earth) guarantees an unprecedented rich and steady food supply - but it is not resilient.

Read more

Africa's rapid economic transformation

By T. S. Jayne, A. Adelaja and R. Mkandawire

Thirty years ago, Africa was synonymous with war, famine and poverty. That narrative is clearly outdated. African living standards are rising remarkably fast. Our authors are convinced that improving education and entrepreneurship will ensure irreversible progress in the region even as it confronts COVID-19.

Read more

Reference values: A building block on the road to social equality

Article by Friederieke Martin (GIZ)

A quick and cost-effective method calculates living wages and incomes for many different countries. The GIZ together with Fairtrade International and Richard and Martha Anker have developed a tool that companies can use to easily analyse income and wage gaps.

Read more

Quinoa could have a huge potential in Central Asia, where the Aral Sea Basin has been especially hard-hit by salinisation.

Africa's face of agriculture is female

By Beatrice Gakuba

Africa has a huge opportunity to make agriculture its economic driver. However, the potential for this is far from being made exhaustive use of, one reason being that women face considerable difficulties in their economic activities. The organisation AWAN Afrika seeks to change this state of affairs.

Read more

Quinoa could have a huge potential in Central Asia, where the Aral Sea Basin has been especially hard-hit by salinisation.

Video: 4 Questions to Claudia Makdristo

By Seedstars

Startups are booming in African agriculture. What are the current trend and challenges – and can other regions benefit from innovative approaches? A Video-Interview with Claudia Makadristo, Regional Manager of Seedstars  

Read more

Freed from trade? Towards a fairer EU Trade Agenda

By Dr. Jan Orbie

‘Fair’ and ‘sustainable’ are key words in Germany’s EU Council Presidency. At the same time, Germany pursues ‘modernization’ of the WTO and ‘rapid progress’ on free trade agreements. Are these goals really compatible? Can we be concerned about fairness and sustainability while continuing with ‘business as usual’?

Read more

Ms Rudloff, what are the benefits of a supply chain law?

By Jan Rübel

The Federal Government is fine-tuning a law that would require companies to ensure human rights – a supply chain law. What are the consequences for the agricultural sector? Dr Bettina Rudloff from the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) discusses linking policy fields with added value.

Read more

Quinoa could have a huge potential in Central Asia, where the Aral Sea Basin has been especially hard-hit by salinisation.

Supermarket Scorecard on Human Rights

By Dr. Franziska Humbert (Oxfam)

Oxfam’s supermarket scorecard, which is in its third year, shows one thing in particular - it works! Supermarkets can change their business policies and focus more on the rights of those people around the world who plant and harvest food. However, this does not happen without pressure. 

Read more


Actual Analysis: The locusts came with the crises

By Bettina Rudloff and Annette Weber (SWP)

The Corona-Virus exacerbates existing crises through conflict, climate, hunger and locusts in East Africa and the Horn of Africa. What needs to be done in these regions? To face these challenges for many countries, all of these crises need to be captured in their regional context.

Read more

Developing countries hit doubly hard by coronavirus

By Gunter Beger (BMZ)

In most African countries, the infection COVID-19 is likely to trigger a combined health and food crisis. This means: In order to cope with this unprecedented crisis, consistently aligning our policies to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is more important than ever, our author maintains.

Read more

Hier steht eine Bildbeschreibung

Statement from GAFSP Co-Chairs: GAFSP and COVID-19 Pandemic


COVID-19 has unprecedented effects on the world. As always, the most vulnerable are the hardest hit, both at home and - especially - abroad. A joint appeal by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation (BMZ) and the Department for International Development (DFID).

Read more

(c) Christoph Pueschner/Zeitenspiegel

Can this end world hunger?

By Stig Tanzmann

Time to dig deeper: We can only benefit from technical progress if we have a solid legal framework for everybody. But so far, none is in sight - in many countries. Instead, international corporations grow ever more powerful.

Read more

Innovations for a secure food supply

By German Agribusiness Alliance

The COVID 19 pandemic is hitting developing and emerging countries and their poorest populations particularly hard. It is important to take countermeasures at an early stage. Companies in the German agricultural sector want to make their contribution to ensuring the availability of urgently needed operating resources.

Read more

Turning many into one: CGIAR network restructures

By Jan Rübel

International agricultural research is responding to new challenges: Their advisory group is undergoing a fundamental reform process and unites knowledge, partnerships and physical assets into OneCGIAR.

Read more


Ideas on the ground: Local solutions for global challenges

Interview with Sebastian Lesch (BMZ)

A world without hunger and with sufficient healthy food as well as climate-friendly agriculture can only be achieved if ideas are transformed into innovations and ultimately also applied - a conversation with BMZ Head of Division Sebastian Lesch on the Innovation Challenge programme of the new Agricultural Innovation Fund.

Read more

(c) Joerg Boethling/GIZ

What it takes now

By Heike Baumüller

Artificial intelligence, big data and blockchain are the hottest topics of our time. The digital transformation of the African agricultural sector is ready for take-off. What will it take for the future of technology to hit the ground running?

Read more

(c) Katapult/GIZ

The digitised farmyard

By Jan Rübel

Lots of apps are entering the market, but what really makes sense? For African agriculture, some of it seems like a gimmick, some like a real step forward. So this is what a smallholder farm in Africa could look like today - with the help of smartphones, internet and electricity. 

Read more

Video diaries in the days of Corona: Voices from the ground

By Sarah D´haen & Alexander Müller, Louisa Nelle, Bruno St. Jaques, Sarah Kirangu-Wissler and Matteo Lattanzi (TMG)

Young farmers’ insights on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on food systems in Sub-Saharan Africa @CovidFoodFuture and video diaries from Nairobi’s informal settlements.

Read more

Global responsibility: Tackling hunger is the only way forward

By Lisa Hücking (WHH)

Chancellor Merkel has begun an ambitious European political programme: Striving for compromise in budget negotiations, an orderly Brexit as well as an appropriate response to the corona crisis. Unfortunately, one of her positions that she previously held is nowhere to be found: Africa's prosperity is in the interest of Europe. 

Read more

Good health is impossible without healthy food

By Heino von Meyer

Corona makes it even more difficult to achieve a world without hunger by 2030. So that this perspective does not get out of sight, Germany must play a stronger role internationally - a summary of the Strategic Advisory Group of SEWOH.

Read more