Leading mobile network operator in Kenya, Safaricom has launched a Digifarm depot in Burnt Forest in Uasin Gishu County of the country.
Digifarm is a mobile phone-based solution that allows government and service providers in the field of agriculture to interact with and offer agricultural-related services to smallholder farmers in Kenya who, previously had no access to any support structures.
Victor Ngumo who is the Safaricom Head of Rift Region said that the depot is part of the company’s efforts to provide access to high quality inputs and provide sustainable markets in a bid to encourage more smallholder farmers to transition into agribusiness.
He said “Sixty percent of Kenyans are employed in the agricultural sector but only 30 percent of our GDP comes from agriculture. This means that there is a gap. We understand that small scale farmers have a lot of challenges and that is why we came up with the idea.”
He stressed that the depot which was opened in partnership with agricultural supply chain experts iProcure is targeted at thousands of farmers across the county. Ngumo added that since the launch of Digifarm in October 2017, over 672,000 farmers had been registered and over 7,000 loans had been disbursed through a mobile phone module.
“The farmers in and around the county will receive high quality seeds, fertilisers, animal feeds and agricultural chemicals. Farmers will be able to purchase these inputs via M-PESA or credit payable between 30, 60 or – 90 days depending on the credit package a farmer gets,” he added.
Ngumo added that the depot would act as a source of vital data for the county government enabling them to use the information for planning and resource allocation.
The platform will also improves collection of agricultural data by registering farmers and allowing them to key in information such as the size of their farms and nature of farming activities.