Over 150,000 Farmers in Makueni County will now access information on best farming practices, discounted inputs and credit services through their phones. Acquisition of farmers in Makueni began in mid-June, and so far 120,000 farmers have been educated on DigiFarm and can now access the service. This drive has so far covered Wote, Mbooni and Kibwezi East sub-counties with Kilome and Kaiti to be covered in August.
To bring the services of quality input closer to the Makueni farmer, DigiFarm will open three depots in Wote, Kalawani and Mbumbuni – the latter which shall be officially open today where farmers will access quality, discounted inputs.
(TOP: Safaricom Director Strategy and Innovation, Joseph Ogutu – right – interacts with Makueni County Governor, Kivutha Kibwana – left – and KLPA CEO, Patrick Kimani – centre – inside the newly launched DigiFarm depot in Makueni).
Makueni farmers will especially benefit from the all-round availability of inputs at the depots, especially during peak season, and access to advisory and technical information from experts stationed at each of the depots. There is a call also to Makueni residents, people who may have shops or already running agrovets and would wish to partner to bring services closer to the farmer to come forth and register their interest.
DigiFarm is an agribusiness solution tailored for small-holder farmers, providing them with best farming practices on different crops and livestock, access to credit, and quality, discounted inputs. This service is delivered through a mobile phone where farmers can enrol and access by dialling *283#.
Previously, farmers have struggled to access adequate financing as formal lenders lack enough information to assess the farmers. Through DigiFarm, farmers can now 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 on their MPESA. The more a farmer applies and repays a loan the limit increases.
At the depot, farmers will also receive input recommendation 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.
Launched in October 2017, Digifarm now serves more than 700,000 farmers and has opened 18 depots across the country.