Smallholder farmers in predominantly rural farming communities in Ghana face the challenge in finding the money they need to hire farm labourers, purchase fertilisers, seeds, and basic farm equipment to enable them increase crop yield. Financial institutions are often reluctant to serve smallholder farmers and associated farmer based organisations given their usually small loan sizes and high costs typical of this segment.
Smallholder farmers in Ghana make up approximately 70% of the estimated 5 million farming household population. They have little access to secure growth capital from traditional banks or non-bank finance companies due to their very limited data footprints.
Syecomp, a Remote Sensing and Geospatial Mapping company in Ghana focused on empowering farmers and agribusinesses has been developing a unique product to address these constraints of rural farmers.
The product called mfarmPay®is an alternative data-driven credit scoring application for financially excluded and underserved rural smallholder farmers and farmer-based organisations in Ghana.
mfarmpay leverages on remote sensing satellite data, demographic data, environmental data, farm data and analytic algorithm created by developers at Syecomp to generate alternative credit assessment for partner financial institutions.
According to Solomon Allavi, Syecomp’s Technical Lead on Remote Sensing, their expansive aim is to support partner financial institutions in Ghana with proven scientific data and appropriate risk assessment of their client farmers.
McKinsey and Company’s research indicates that across Sub-Saharan Africa, there is a lack of savings, credit, and investment solutions that work for women, youth, farmers, and other underserved communities. The 2015 World Bank Findex Report estimated that globally about 2.5 billion adults are financially excluded. In Ghana, the Report indicates that only up to 58% of adults have access to some form of financial services. This implies that about 42% of the Ghanaian adult population is financially excluded without using any form of formal or informal financial services. mfarmPay seeks to address this issue since the majority of the financially excluded are food producers.
“By generating credible and verifiable data about smallholder food producers, we can help financial institutions render financial assistance to small-scale food producers in the country”, says Larry Marcus, Syecomp’s Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) Lead.
mfarmPay® is expected to be rolled out iteratively in first quarter of 2018 to benefit an initial targeted 100,000 farmers across all the agro-ecological zones in Ghana and later scaled. With the human-centred iterative design approach adopted in the product development, mfarmPay® is expected to address the real needs of rural smallholder food producers and remain financially sustainable for the long haul.
About Syecomp Ghana Ltd
Syecomp Ghana Ltd is a Remote Sensing and Geospatial Mapping Company incorporated in Ghana primarily focusing on enhancing agriculture through ICTs and advanced geospatial solutions, research and knowledge management. Syecomp specializes in the acquisition, processing, analysis and synthesis of geospatial data from satellites and multispectral drone sensors for various applications using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing (RS) technology. Syecomp additionally provides support for various actors across and along the agricultural value chain in new dynamics of gathering multispectral and hyperspectral image data and disseminating information via multiple channels to improve farm productivity, income and efficiency of operations.
Syecomp is one of the leading institutions managing the Farmer Helpline (FHL) Service which is part of a global focus to share information and technology to help farmers come up with climate-resilient agricultural practices and also develop strong financial and information service systems.
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