Over 600 sunflower farmers in Makueni county are set to benefit from a partnership between Safaricom’S DigiFarm product, Bidco Africa and the Makueni county government. They are the first beneficiaries of an end to end buyer driven model under which Bidco Africa will provide a ready market for their produce which is used as raw materials in the processing of edible oils.
“We are glad that we are able to help farmers actualise their dreams through DigiFarm by providing an end to end process that will ensure that farming becomes a profitable venture that will eventually uplift their living standards. We hope to continue to engage more farmers with different crops so that we can help them reap maximum benefits,” said Rita Okuthe, chief enterprise officer, Safaricom.
Makueni is the first county to pilot the end to end value chain from registration of farmers to accessing a ready market. DigiFarm provided technical support through quality fertiliser, seeds and access to credit and insurance to help increase productivity.
“Our aim is to ensure that all DigiFarm services are available throughout the county and we are also doing the same in other counties so that farmers can access information, credit facilities, farm inputs and any other tools they may need to help them earn money from their produce,” Ms. Okuthe further said. So far, Makueni county has established thirty four DigiFarm depots where farmers can get inputs such as quality seeds and fertilisers. The county also has the highest number of farmers registered on the platform.
“The uptake of DigiFarm in this county has been very encouraging and we are glad that farmers now have a guaranteed market for their produce, thus eliminating the perennial problem of brokers exploiting them with very poor prices. It is our hope that the partnership we have signed today will go a long way in motivating the small-scale farmers become more self-reliant,” said Prof. Kivutha Kibwana, Governor, Makueni County.
Digifarm was officially launched in Makueni in August 2018 at a trade fair at Nduluku Technical College. Since then, seventy five extension officers have been trained and equipped with mobile phones to help increase uptake. It is an integrated, free-to-use mobile platform that offers smallholder farmers access to a suite of information and financial services, including discounted products, customized information on farming best practices as well as access to credit and other financial facilities.
So far, one hundred and eighteen DigiFarm depots have been opened across eleven counties where farmers can access high quality inputs that can be purchased via M-Pesa or on credit payable within thirty to ninety days.