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.
The 640 Sunflower farmers are the first beneficiaries of an end to end buyer driven model and will see Bidco Africa 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 get access to information, credit facilities, farm inputs and any other necessary tools they may need to help them earn money from their produce” Said Ms. Okuthe.
So far, Makueni County has 34 DigiFarm depots where farmers can get inputs such as quality seeds and fertilisers. The county also has the highest number of registered farmers on the platform with over 217,000 out of the close to 1 Million farmers registered countrywide.
“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 therefore eliminating the perennial problem of brokers exploiting farmers 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.
According to the Governor, about 941 metric tons of sunflower valued at KES 35Million shillings has been harvested. Out of the 10,000 metric tons of sunflower seeds demand by Bidco annually, Makueni has been allocated a 2,000 quota, a motivator to the local farmers to take up Sunflower production/.
DigiFarm was officially launched in Makueni in August 2018 at a trade fair at Nduluku Technical College. Since then 75 extension officers have been trained and equipped with mobile phones to help increase uptake.
DigiFarm 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, and access to credit and other financial facilities.
So far,118 DigiFarm depots have been opened across the 11 Counties where farmers can access high quality inputs that can be purchased via M-PESA or on credit payable within 30 to 90 days. To access the service farmers dial *283# and upon registration, they are able to access the different services that are offered on the platform.