Safaricom (NSE:SCOM) has today opened a Digifarm depot in Burnt Forest town, Uasin Gishu County, as part of the company’s efforts to encourage more smallholder farmers to transition into agribusiness by creating opportunities for them to access high quality inputs and sustainable markets.
The depot has been opened in partnership with agricultural supply chain experts iProcure, and will target thousands of farmers in and around the county with 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.
“There is an urgent need for us to commercialise farming in Kenya, and we want to do this by helping smallholder farmers to transition into agribusiness. In addition to farming inputs, this depot will give farmers access to agronomists who will advise them on issues such as soil productivity and quality of seeds to help them improve their yields, said Victor Ngumo, Head of Rift Region – Safaricom.
The depot will also act as a source of vital data for the county government, which will be able to use this information for planning and resource allocation as well as enabling agricultural extension officers to reach more farmers.
Digifarm is an integrated mobile platform that offers farmers convenient, one-stop access to a variety of services including discounted inputs and advice on input use, financing, and information on crops and animals. The platform 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.
Since its launch in October 2017 Digifarm has registered over 672,000 farmers and disbursed over 7,000 loans through a mobile phone loan module that gives farmers access to financing for the purchase of farming inputs.
“The information collected is used to ensure that farmers receive relevant support, and to assist in building a national database that can be used by the Government for long-term planning as it seeks to achieve food security in line with the Big Four agenda,” said Mr. Ngumo.
The depot is part of the company’s efforts to reach its customers through the recently launched Twaweza Live experience, which will see Safaricom deliver a mix of entertainment, product education, customer services, free medical camps and community projects across the country.