Farming is a really important economic activity. However, it is a high risk activity because most of it’s steps are highly dependent on external factors such as weather. Farming is a tedious process from land preparation, planting, weeding, fertilizing all the way to harvesting. Proper care and investment needs to be put in place in every step in order for one to yield good results.
Unfortunately for most subsistence farmers, they lack enough finances to acquire good and adequate products to invest in their farming. They tend to buy less fertilizers and manure than they need due to insufficient funds. The major financial institutions don’t really have enough information to assess farmers, thus they shy from lending farmers money to boost their farming practices.
From mid-June, the farmers from Makueni County got a farming solution that relieves them from the agony of the protracted farming process. DigiFarm in conjunction with Safaricom was launched to boost the farming practices of small scale farmers. DigiFarm is a mobile platform that offers best farming practices information, access to discounted inputs and credit services to registered farmers. DigiFarm also has physical depots where the farmers can easily access inputs products throughout the seasons. DigiFarm depots will also have experts who will offer technical support and information to the farmers.
Through DigiFarm, farmers can apply for an input loan where they receive a code on their phones which they redeem at a DigiFarm depot. For loan processing, the service relies on a big data model to score farmers for financing, based on historical data of their M-PESA transactions. The more a farmer applies and repays a loan, their limit increases. At the depot, farmers will also receive input recommendations specific to their locality, with the recommended inputs accessible at a discount or on credit. Input recommendations are similarly data-driven and are informed by climate, current weather conditions, soil types and soil fertility. The depots are run in partnership with iProcure.
DigiFarm has currently enrolled around 150,000 farmers from Makueni County. DigiFarm has so far covered Wote, Mbooni and Kibwezi East sub-counties. Kilome and Kaiti will be covered this August. The DigiFarms depots are stationed in Wote, Kalawani and Mbumbuni. DigiFarms is offering to partner with residents of Makueni who have already running agrovet shops by encouraging them to register with them and work together to bring services closer to the farmer.
Farmers can access the DigiFarm service by dialing *283#.