[Kenya] Safaricom targets 100k farmers with digifarm depot in Meru
Safaricom in partnership with iProcure, FarmDrive and Arifu have opened four Digifarm depots in Meru County of Eastern Kenya.
Located in Laare, Nkubu, Mikindori and Meru Town, the four depots will offer quality, affordable inputs to farmers from Meru County. Since October 2017, more than 105,000 farmers from the county have signed up for the Digifarm service.
“Digifarm leverages technology to tackle the challenges faced by farmers and to also empower farmers with solutions to grow their businesses. The service is specially tailored to cater to the specific needs of farmers in each of the counties it is available in, providing localised information and discounted inputs, “said Rita Okuthe, Director – Enterprise Business, Safaricom.
Meru farmers will especially benefit from the all-round availability of inputs at the depots, especially during peak season, and access to advisory and technical information from experts stationed at each of the depots.
Digifarm is an agribusiness solution tailored for small-holder farmers, providing them with financing, information on different crops and animals in addition to quality, discounted inputs. Farmers can enrol to and access Digifarm by dialling *283#.
For loan processing, the service relies on a big data model developed by FarmDrive to score farmers for financing, based on historical data on their farms. Previously, farmers have struggled to access adequate financing as formal lenders lack enough information to assess the farmers.
The service also provides farmers with input recommendation specific to their locality, with the recommended inputs accessible at a discount or on credit at a Digifarm depot. Input recommendations are similarly data-driven and are informed by climate, current weather conditions, soil types and soil fertility. The depots are run in partnership with iProcure.
Launched in October 2017, Digifarm now serves more than 670,000 farmers and has opened 18 depots across the country. FarmDrive and iProcure were among five startups that qualified for Safaricom’s $1 million Spark Fund, which provided early-stage funding to firms innovating around the mobile phone.