KENYA:New technology to enable farmers access finances

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Three major organisations have partnered to roll out a farming technology aimed at revolutionising farming among smallholder farmers across the country.

Mercy Corps, MasterCard Foundation, and Safaricom have introduced DigiFarm, a mobile phone platform which enables farmers access variety of services including farm inputs, agricultural information, financial access while enabling them to find buyers for their produce.

The platform which was introduced four months ago is currently being piloted in four counties.

Leesa Shrader, programme director at Mercy Corps’ Agrifin Accelerate said DigiFarm is a digital platform that collects data from farmers, for instance, the size of one’s farm, the crops grown, how much he has saved on mobile money service after which it uses the data to create a profile for the farmer.

“When a farmers on the DigiFarm platform applies for a loan they receive feedback within three minutes telling them how much they can access. The farmers can then use the loan to buy afordable and high quality inputs. Buyers are available on the platform,” said Ms Shrader, adding this year they are hoping to get to more than 10 counties.

Mercy Corps’ Agrifin Accelerate programme is a US$25 million three-country, six-year initiative supported by the Mastercard Foundation.

It is expected to benefit one million smallholder farmers across Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia by helping to close the gap in access to financial, informational and market services.

Speaking during Agrifin Accelerate program in Nairobi this week,Ms Shrader said: “In Kenya, our 2017 study of smallholders found that over 90 per cent use mobile phones to access financial services and information regardless of education, gender or age and the use of smart phones is on the rise.”