Kenyan smallholder farmers face a challenge when accessing loans and financing from banks and other financial institutions. Financial institutions cite the high risk nature of the agricultural sector as a major catalyst to their shying off from offering loans. Lack of farm records on sales also scares off the financial institutions. It is common knowledge that an empty hand doesn’t get licked.
FarmDrive mobile application was founded in 2014 to provide detailed risk profiles off smallholder farmers to financial institutions. They do this through a credit score, generated by an algorithm which relies on data-sets collected from the farmers through their mobile handsets. When farmers sign up to the platform, either by SMS or the app, they are asked a number of questions that will then generate the farmer’s profile. Such information entails the farmer’s location, crops cultivated, size of the farm and assets.
What is quite phenomenal about this app is the use of psychometric testing to determine a farmer’s character; necessary for proper profiling of the person they are working with. You might be familiar with the 4 Financial Personality Types, money has different utility as per the types. The farmers who qualify for loans, receive the loans via M-Pesa and pay back via M-Pesa. FarmDrive are currently engaging with Planet, a satellite company from Silicon Valley, and The Impact Lab, a Chicago-based data analytics firm to analyze the possibilities of using satellite images in predicting a farmer’s credibility for loans.
Since its launch on October 2017, DigiFarm has registered on board over 700,000 farmers across nine counties with success stories from Makueni, Uasin Gishu, and Meru. This allows the counties and National government source vital data for planning and resource allocation. DigiFarm is a Safaricom product whose main agenda is to enrich the small-holder farmer. DigiFarm aims to digitize the entire agriculture value chain from producer to final processor. The initial step involves farm profiling. Farm profiling will help in transforming agriculture from the normal “copy paste” type of farming to precision farming; based on the farmer’s soils and ecological conditions.
DigiFarm will provide farmers with access to information to help them understand the farming market structure such as what, when and how to plant to where they can take their harvest. A success story from the bread basket, Uasin Gishu County is the opening of the DigiFarm depot in Burnt Forest town which will provide farm inputs, access to agronomists who will advise the farmers on issues such as soil productivity and quality of seeds to boost yields. DigiFarm has partnerships with FarmDrive and iProcure so as to deliver a wholesome service package to the farmers.
Agrocares is a Dutch AgroTech company that was established back in 2013 in Wageningen under the name SoilCares. AgroCares offers innovative cloud based services & applications in a bid to promote precision farming. It measures real-time data on nutrients and other key parameters in soil (SoilCares), in feed (FeedCares) and in leaf (LeafCares) which ultimately leads to sustainable yield and production quality also increases.
AgroCares has also developed a Scoutbox to identify and count harmful insects in greenhouses (InsectCares). They use their in-house monitoring tools and their mobile applications provide farmers with on-the-spot, fast, integrable and reliable data and customizable farm management recommendations. Innovation being key in their business model, AgroCares combine innovative sensor technology with data mining and modelling. They convert analytical data and sensor data into field and client specific recommendations.
The uLima application is designed to provide farmers across Africa with a toolset, information libraries, database and access to the latest marketing information. This is in the spirit of information sharing of best agricultural practices across the continent and foster excellence in Agriculture Industry, in which the continent thrives. The app has tailor-made solutions to every farmer in terms of crop calendars, offering step-by-step assistance from planting to post-harvest.
The mobile app provides farmers with access to information on crops, seeds, soil, livestock, agro-chemicals, weather updates and market prices. The application is birthed from a Nairobi-based start-up company and was launched in February 2018 in Mombasa.