MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE SELECTS SAFARICOM TO STREAMLINE SUBSIDY VOUCHER PROGRAM

Pilot will see over 500,000 farmers use their mobile phones to receive critical subsidy vouchers, introducing transparency into distribution process

Nairobi, Kenya – May 29th, 2015… Safaricom and the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries have embarked on the pilot of a joint initiative that aims at empowering farmers with access to a technology-based solution for the distribution of fertilizer and other key inputs.

The solution, named ‘E-fertilizer Subsidy Management System’, is an electronic vouchering solution that has been specially developed for the Ministry by Safaricom, allowing farmers to access vouchers via their mobile phones. It will also enable the Government to plan future requirements in terms of fertilizer types and quantities

The vouchers will be used by the farmers to access Government fertilizer at subsidized prices. “Traditionally, the process of getting subsidies to farmers has been time intensive and inefficient as there was no single way to reach them all effectively. Our solution, should the pilot be successful, will allows us to increase transparency in the allocation of fertilizer to over 3.5 million small-holder farmers across the country using mobile phones,” said Sicily Kariuki, Principal Secretary, State Department of Agriculture.

E-Fertilizer Subsidy leverages data and SMS services to manage the issuance, redemption and reconciliation of vouchers on behalf of the MoALF input subsidization intervention program. The solution offers simple reporting capabilities in order to improve decision support for the Ministry, which is charged with distributing fertilizer inputs to farmers across the country.

Registration of farmers to benefit from the program as well as agro-dealers is being carried out by the Ministry. The information will be stored within a central database which will then be used to ensure that each farmer is allocated the correct amount of fertilizer.

The solution also allows for the verification and vetting of farmer profiles, as well as allowing those in the system to request, redeem and reconcile vouchers through their mobile phones. As envisaged earlier, a dry system run will be done in Uasin Gishu, Trans Nzoia and Bungoma counties in preparation for next season subsidy fertilizer distribution. In this regard, the Ministry appeals to farmers to register for the program in during the dry run.

“Mobile technology has the ability to revolutionize traditional distribution models and enhance supply chain issues. This turn-key solution is just one of several that Safaricom hopes will transform the operations of businesses across Kenya,” said Bob Collymore, CEO, Safaricom.

The solution will also allow the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock & Fisheries to establish a network of dealers and reduce the cost of distribution of fertilizer to farmers while creating a first-of-a-kind database of stakeholders such as Agro-dealers, County agricultural extension workers, and Ministry of Agriculture staff.

The program is one of a number of interventions that the Ministry hopes will streamline access to vital services and products in the agriculture sector, including using technology to provide information services to farmers.

“As at the beginning of this month, a total of 510,000MT of various types of fertilizers had been imported into the country against an estimated demand of 490,000MT for food crops, tea, sugar cane and coffee production. There are therefore enough stocks of planting and topdressing fertilizers.” Agriculture Principal Secretary, Sicily Kariuki says, adding that the Government is in the process of availing an additional 12,000MT of topdressing subsidized fertilizer.

The public, she says, should also note that fertilizers imported into the country are subjected to pre-shipment inspections for Kenya fertilizer standards by quality control firms contracted by Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) and certificates of conformity issued before shipment.  The PS says that in a very unfortunate case, a routine check at the port revealed that a consignment of 7,260 MT of NPK 23:23:0 imported by NCPB this month did not meet two parameters of the fertilizer standard (KS 158:2012) for compound fertilizers.

The moisture content was 1.7% instead of 1.5% and it was also lumpy instead of free flowing. The rest of the parameters were meeting the standard. This consignment has been impounded and is not available to farmers. The PS says the relevant arms of Government are investigating the matter.

“I want to assure farmers and other key stakeholders that the Ministry will continue countrywide sampling of fertilizer held by various outlets for verification of quality to ensure that sub-standard farm inputs do not find their way to the market” she said. 

Meanwhile, Vodafone has also announced that it will launch its Farmers’ Club initiative in Kenya and Tanzania – over the coming year. The Vodafone Farmers’ Club is a social business model which offers a range of mobile services to help farmers boost productivity.

It was first launched in Turkey in 2009  where around 25 per cent of the Turkish population work in the agriculture sector.  The Farmers’ Club programme has benefitted 1.2 million farmers, helping them to enhance crop yields and increase farm gate incomes.

Vodafone Group Regional Chief Executive for the Africa, Middle East and Asia Pacific region Serpil Timuray, said specific Farmers’ Club services offered in each country will vary but will include information services, virtual marketplaces in which farmers can sell their produce and mobile money financial services and products.

“One-third of humanity relies on food grown by 500 million smallholder farmers with less than two hectares of land. Mobile technology has a critically important role to play in increasing agricultural resilience and enhancing quality of life for some of the poorest people on earth. Our experience in Turkey has demonstrated how mobile services can transform farmers’ ability to increase crop yields, improve efficiency and grow farm gate incomes,” Timuray said.

“As the global population continues to expand, farmers have an urgent need to produce ever-increasing amounts of food without destroying habitats or depleting resources in a way which is unsustainable. Smart and forward-looking initiatives such as the Vodafone Farmers’ Club concept can make a real difference in addressing the global challenge of food production and security,” she added.

For more information please see:

110 second ‘sand art’ film: https://youtu.be/UbHq5T2EuKo

4-minute ‘sand art’ film: https://youtu.be/BdSBpuiq8eY  

And HD files of both films can be downloaded here: http://we.tl/rs6WARj4LR

Pilot will see over 500,000 farmers use their mobile phones to receive critical subsidy vouchers, introducing transparency into distribution process

Nairobi, Kenya – May 29th, 2015… Safaricom and the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries have embarked on the pilot of a joint initiative that aims at empowering farmers with access to a technology-based solution for the distribution of fertilizer and other key inputs.

The solution, named ‘E-fertilizer Subsidy Management System’, is an electronic vouchering solution that has been specially developed for the Ministry by Safaricom, allowing farmers to access vouchers via their mobile phones. It will also enable the Government to plan future requirements in terms of fertilizer types and quantities

The vouchers will be used by the farmers to access Government fertilizer at subsidized prices. “Traditionally, the process of getting subsidies to farmers has been time intensive and inefficient as there was no single way to reach them all effectively. Our solution, should the pilot be successful, will allows us to increase transparency in the allocation of fertilizer to over 3.5 million small-holder farmers across the country using mobile phones,” said Sicily Kariuki, Principal Secretary, State Department of Agriculture.

E-Fertilizer Subsidy leverages data and SMS services to manage the issuance, redemption and reconciliation of vouchers on behalf of the MoALF input subsidization intervention program. The solution offers simple reporting capabilities in order to improve decision support for the Ministry, which is charged with distributing fertilizer inputs to farmers across the country.

Registration of farmers to benefit from the program as well as agro-dealers is being carried out by the Ministry. The information will be stored within a central database which will then be used to ensure that each farmer is allocated the correct amount of fertilizer.

The solution also allows for the verification and vetting of farmer profiles, as well as allowing those in the system to request, redeem and reconcile vouchers through their mobile phones. As envisaged earlier, a dry system run will be done in Uasin Gishu, Trans Nzoia and Bungoma counties in preparation for next season subsidy fertilizer distribution. In this regard, the Ministry appeals to farmers to register for the program in during the dry run.

“Mobile technology has the ability to revolutionize traditional distribution models and enhance supply chain issues. This turn-key solution is just one of several that Safaricom hopes will transform the operations of businesses across Kenya,” said Bob Collymore, CEO, Safaricom.

The solution will also allow the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock & Fisheries to establish a network of dealers and reduce the cost of distribution of fertilizer to farmers while creating a first-of-a-kind database of stakeholders such as Agro-dealers, County agricultural extension workers, and Ministry of Agriculture staff.

The program is one of a number of interventions that the Ministry hopes will streamline access to vital services and products in the agriculture sector, including using technology to provide information services to farmers.

“As at the beginning of this month, a total of 510,000MT of various types of fertilizers had been imported into the country against an estimated demand of 490,000MT for food crops, tea, sugar cane and coffee production. There are therefore enough stocks of planting and topdressing fertilizers.” Agriculture Principal Secretary, Sicily Kariuki says, adding that the Government is in the process of availing an additional 12,000MT of topdressing subsidized fertilizer.

The public, she says, should also note that fertilizers imported into the country are subjected to pre-shipment inspections for Kenya fertilizer standards by quality control firms contracted by Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) and certificates of conformity issued before shipment.  The PS says that in a very unfortunate case, a routine check at the port revealed that a consignment of 7,260 MT of NPK 23:23:0 imported by NCPB this month did not meet two parameters of the fertilizer standard (KS 158:2012) for compound fertilizers.

The moisture content was 1.7% instead of 1.5% and it was also lumpy instead of free flowing. The rest of the parameters were meeting the standard. This consignment has been impounded and is not available to farmers. The PS says the relevant arms of Government are investigating the matter.

“I want to assure farmers and other key stakeholders that the Ministry will continue countrywide sampling of fertilizer held by various outlets for verification of quality to ensure that sub-standard farm inputs do not find their way to the market” she said. 

Meanwhile, Vodafone has also announced that it will launch its Farmers’ Club initiative in Kenya and Tanzania – over the coming year. The Vodafone Farmers’ Club is a social business model which offers a range of mobile services to help farmers boost productivity.

It was first launched in Turkey in 2009  where around 25 per cent of the Turkish population work in the agriculture sector.  The Farmers’ Club programme has benefitted 1.2 million farmers, helping them to enhance crop yields and increase farm gate incomes.

Vodafone Group Regional Chief Executive for the Africa, Middle East and Asia Pacific region Serpil Timuray, said specific Farmers’ Club services offered in each country will vary but will include information services, virtual marketplaces in which farmers can sell their produce and mobile money financial services and products.

“One-third of humanity relies on food grown by 500 million smallholder farmers with less than two hectares of land. Mobile technology has a critically important role to play in increasing agricultural resilience and enhancing quality of life for some of the poorest people on earth. Our experience in Turkey has demonstrated how mobile services can transform farmers’ ability to increase crop yields, improve efficiency and grow farm gate incomes,” Timuray said.

“As the global population continues to expand, farmers have an urgent need to produce ever-increasing amounts of food without destroying habitats or depleting resources in a way which is unsustainable. Smart and forward-looking initiatives such as the Vodafone Farmers’ Club concept can make a real difference in addressing the global challenge of food production and security,” she added.

For more information please see:

110 second ‘sand art’ film: https://youtu.be/UbHq5T2EuKo

4-minute ‘sand art’ film: https://youtu.be/BdSBpuiq8eY  

And HD files of both films can be downloaded here: http://we.tl/rs6WARj4LR

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