RFP - Asia and the Pacific Implementation partner for the Smallholder Economic Empowerment through Digital Solutions Project

RFP - Asia and the Pacific Implementation partner for the Smallholder Economic Empowerment through Digital Solutions Project

Organization: International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)

Apply By: 16 Jun 2023

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About the Organization

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), a specialized agency of the United Nations, was one of the major outcomes of the 1974 World Food Conference.

The conference was organized by the United Nations in response to the food crises of the early 1970s, when global food shortages were causing widespread famine and malnutrition, primarily in the Sahelian countries of Africa.

World leaders realized that food insecurity and famine were not so much failures in food production but structural problems relating to poverty. This was compounded by the fact that the majority of the developing world's poor people lived in rural areas.

About the Proposal

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the weaknesses in ASEAN food systems. In spite of the dynamic economic environment in many ASEAN countries, smallholder farmers in the region continue to struggle with competitiveness, productivity and food security. The promise of digital solutions in addressing many of these challenges is well documented and exists across multiple domains in the food system. Digital technologies hold the key to improving smallholder productivity through disseminating and promoting better farming techniques, lowering transaction and logistics costs, and facilitating access to markets and financing. These digital tools include financing platforms, pest and disease detection, farmer training, satellite monitoring, weather information, product traceability and logistics planning. With these digital tools, farmers can increase their agricultural output and—together with other actors in the value chain—become financially included and prosper as middle-income families.

Against this backdrop, IFAD and Grow Asia are partnering to deliver the Smallholder Economic Empowerment through Digital Solutions (SEEDS) Project financed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (MAFRA) of the Republic of Korea.

The Project will be implemented in Cambodia, Philippines and Vietnam with an expected completion at the end of 2025. The target countries were selected based on an analysis of challenges and opportunities that smallholder farmers in these countries face in the digitalization domain, the prospective linkages with IFAD’s ongoing portfolio and in-country capacity, and the support and momentum already established in the Grow Asia network.

The objective of the Project is to accelerate and scale-up social and economic development for smallholder households and poor rural people through digital and ICT solutions and interventions. The Project intends to bridge the digital gap that characterizes the majority of smallholder farmers in Southeast Asia, and in turn facilitate their access to services required for the modernization of their farms and agri-enterprises. This will allow smallholder farmers to be integrated into the evolving digital technology landscape, and to achieve higher farm productivity and incomes. SEEDS will build on Grow Asia’s and IFAD’s experience on bringing innovation through multi-stakeholder partnerships to the small-scale farming sector, as well as leveraging on the leadership of the republic of Korea in the field of digital agriculture. In doing that, the Project interventions will target three key sets of players in the digital ecosystem for smallholder agriculture.

  • Developers of digital technologies (both startups and corporates).
  • Smallholders and farmer organizations: building their capacity to use digital technologies.
  • Policymakers and regulators: assisting them in establishing an enabling environment by identifying and addressing gaps in the regulatory and policy environment, including those that can provide the incentives to the private sector to expand coverage in rural and remote areas beyond the market frontier towards the public value frontier.

A holistic landscape approach is necessary to ensure complementarity and synergies between the interventions.

The purpose of this Tender is to identify a company/entity whose services, employees or consultants are experienced in the skills and technologies described in the requirements section in this tender and has presence in at least one of the three countries under this tender. The prospective company/entity will work with IFAD’s country teams in the three target countries, as well as with Grow Asia counterparts in the three countries to deliver on the activities under this project, outlined in the scope of services section. The company shall perform these activities in the countries specified (Cambodia, Philippines and Vietnam).

Duration and cost revision

The Fixed Term Agreement concluded between IFAD and the selected company will have a duration of 2.5 years/31 months until December 2025.

The agreement will have a fixed budget of approximately US$ 900,000 to cover total project costs (inclusive of related costs including activities implementation, travels and event logistics).

Scope of services

IFAD recognizes the importance of ICT in reaching food security, rural sustainable and inclusive transformation goals. Its ICT for development (ICT4D) strategy aims to (i) build internal ICT4D awareness within IFAD; (ii) support the scalable uptake of ICT4D solutions; (iii) strengthen ICT4D partnerships; and (iv) promote knowledge management and sharing related to ICT4D. IFAD’s Asia and Pacific Division has set the long-term goal of supporting the integration of ASEAN smallholders into the evolving digital technology landscape in agriculture. IFAD believes that suitably designed digital technologies can play a powerful role in increasing poor rural people’s productive capacities, increase their benefits from market participation, and enhance their climate resilience. Furthermore, digital technologies can be leveraged to enhance the attractiveness of agriculture and agribusiness activities to the young, reduce the barriers that women engaged in agriculture face when accessing markets for outputs and inputs, and enhance the access to critical information on climate and production practices that smallholders require to adapt to climate change.

The proposed Project will build upon projects that were previously financed by the Republic of Korea . IFAD has supported the development of, access to, and dissemination of digital technologies for smallholders in diverse countries in Asia. Specific initiatives, also funded by the Republic of Korea, are currently being implemented in the Philippines, and completed recently in Cambodia and Vietnam. Such initiatives provide lessons and opportunities for targeted support and will complement a programmatic approach that will also develop an enabling and supportive environment for the systematic generation and diffusion of digital technologies, specifically designed for smallholders.

The Project references the nine Principles for Digital Development: (i) design with the user; (ii) understand the existing ecosystem; (iii) design for scale; (iv) build for sustainability; (v) be data driven; (vi) use open standards, open data, open source and open innovation; (vii) reuse and improve; (viii) address privacy and security; and (ix) be collaborative.

Grow Asia and IFAD have designed the Project to be:

  • Flexible and adaptable: With the pace of change in ASEAN’s digital landscape, any future program needs to adapt to emerging needs and opportunities that will emerge over time.
  • Supporting not directing: Supporting the on-going emergence of sustainable and scaled private sector solutions requires the program to allow those solutions to innovate and develop in their own ways.
  • Supporting diverse technologies: Among the wide range of emerging digital solutions, Grow Asia and IFAD will support a variety of solutions that are smallholder relevant, but not always necessarily through direct service provision.
  • Promoting key themes: Not all digital solutions will have specific gender, youth or climate outcomes but the program will seek to promote learning and innovation in these areas.
  • Connected and collaborative: The program will seek to collaborate with other emerging digital programs wherever it makes sense. It will also need to be connected at the country level in ways that add unique value.


The Project aims to directly benefit 12,000 smallholder beneficiaries (48,000 including family members) engaged in relevant farming systems. The Project is also going to directly benefit 30 start-ups and 150 government officials. The number of indirect beneficiaries over the longer-term is difficult to estimate at this stage.

Component 2: Building the capacity of smallholders, through smallholder farmer organizations, in using digital technologies

Component 3: Strengthening the enabling policy and regulatory environment for smallholder digital technologies           

Component 4: Knowledge Management on smallholder- centric digital solutions


This process is open to all legally constituted companies that can provide the requested services to the highest standards and professionalism available on the market and have legal capacity to perform in the countries specified.

Bidders are expected to provide the information requested by IFAD in the format defined in the Technical Proposal to ensure that all information is clearly communicated. All submissions must be made in English. Any documentation submitted in a language other than English, must be accompanied by a translation into English.

All prices should be quoted in US Dollars.

  • Location of service delivery: The prospective company is expected to have an office in at least one country and capacity to operate across all three countries specified and whenever required, must travel to the sites where the project will be implemented in each country. 
  • Coordination: The prospective company is expected to work under the supervision of IFAD personnel and coordinate with IFAD country teams on the ground, as well as with Grow Asia’s  counterparts in the three countries.
  • Communication skills: All individuals proposed for this assignment should have excellent written and verbal communication skills in English.  Experts with good communication skills in local languages are expected to be included in the team if needed.
  • Experience: All individuals proposed for this assignment should have substantial experience and expertise in the area of digital agriculture and/or on the policy landscape on ICT for development in the ASEAN.
  • Professional Standards and Confidentiality: The expert(s) will be expected to adhere to the highest professional standards both in the performance of the work, as well as in his/her conduct within the organization. Acceptance of this assignment will automatically imply the obligation to maintain strict confidentiality on all information that becomes known to the selected expert(s) as a result of this assignment. The selected expert(s) will not transfer outside the premises of the Fund or retain after the end of the assignment any documentation related to the content of which would entail risks for IFAD if divulged to other parties.

How to Apply

Please note that the deadline for submitting your application is June 16, 2023. Proposals submitted after the deadline will be disregarded.

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