In September last year, my colleagues and I hit the road to Elgeyo Marakwet to meet with some small holder farmers who have gotten just the right push to change their fortunes and also feed the nation. The farmers we met at that time are all potato farmers operating under Safaricom’s Digifarm – a platform which was created through a partnership with mobile solutions provider, Mezzanine. The platform provides smallholder farmers with convenient access to a variety of services, including discounted inputs, financing and advice on best farming practice, all from a 2G enabled mobile phone.
The efficient running of Digifarm is through Safaricom partnerships with iProcure for access to high quality inputs, Farmdrive for affordable credit to farmers, and Arifu who see to it that farmers have access to relevant information.
Not to say that Digifarm which already has over 1 Million subscribed farmers with more than 300,000 being fully active is all about potatoes in Elgeyo Marakwet. It is about coming through for farmers in whatever crops do well in their climates. It is about Soya in Homabay, sweet potatoes and sunflower in Tharaka Nithi and Migori, sorghum in Bungoma, green grams in Makueni, broccoli, snow peas and snap peas in Nyeri, and avocado in Meru. The fact that it is a mobile platform lends to the fact that it has potential to work with farmers in any agricultural area in the country.
I remember writing at that time that “When we talk of farmers accessing the right kind of help, this service certainly comes tops among the many other initiatives by different players in the country.
Well, Digifarm has come tops and won the Best Mobile Innovation in Emerging Markets in this year’s Global Mobile Awards (GLOMO). According to the judges, Digifarm was recognised for demonstrating very impressive collaboration between stakeholders, demonstrating how relatively simple and, by today’s standard, ‘old’ technology can be used to improve the lives of millions.
“This recognition is a true reflection of our dedication to our Transforming Lives purpose. We are constantly finding ways to leverage the power of mobile technology to solve the challenges that communities face every day. Through DigiFarm we want to empower millions of smallholder farmers by giving them the right tools for economic growth, said Michael Joseph, CEO, Safaricom.
This is not the first time that Digifarm is winning. In April 2018, the platform emerged winner of the developing world technology category in Fast Company‘s 2018 World Changing Ideas Awards and was also recognised as the most innovative service at the inaugural East Africa Com Awards and emerged top of the Shared Value Category in the Loeries Awards held in Durban, South Africa. It was also recognised as best digital agricultural platform in the Digital Inclusions Awards.