In September 2019, 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.
Not to say that Digifarm 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. 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.
It is therefore not surprising that DigiFarm has two awards under its belt, one of them being the Best Mobile Innovation in Emerging Markets in last year’s Global Mobile Awards (GLOMO). 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.
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. Another partner that has now come on board is the National Cereals and Produce Board who have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to facilitate small-scale farmers in Kenya access post-harvest management services through the digital platform. NCPB will offer post-harvest management services to farmers present on the platform, while DigiFarm will connect NCPB to small-scale farmers, who will in turn, access NCPB services at prevailing rates
The MoU defines the areas of cooperation in the provision of services including product aggregation and warehousing, quality management, inventory management and control, market facilitation, extension support and farm inputs distribution.
Since its launch DigiFarm has registered 1.3 million farmers on its platform who have benefitted from the services and products provided.