The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) this week announced a US$867,788 grant to Esoko Ghana for the implementation of a MasterCard Foundation-funded project- the Agro Input Access Solution Project.
The 36-month project is expected to support the deployment of an innovative technology solution termed “Fashiba”, aimed at helping over 80,000 smallholder farmers to overcome challenges associated with access to affordable and quality inputs, to increase productivity and incomes.
The initiative is part of the MasterCard Foundation funded financial Inclusion for smallholder Farmers in Africa Project (FISFAP), which is managed by AGRA.
Hedwig Siewertsen, Team Leader (FISFAP)/ AGRA, said Esoko was identified for its ability to use digital channels which makes it easier to reach farmers with financial services. She noted that through the technology, farmers in the country can now access financial services through their mobile phones.
“Timely access to quality and affordable inputs has been a major challenge for many smallholder farmers in Ghana, over the years, just as in many other countries across the African continent. As a result of this challenge, many farmers end up putting in a lot of effort but have little results to show, which worsens their general living conditions.
This is what MasterCard and AGRA aim to address so that our farmers can improve their livelihoods through increased productivity and incomes”, Siewertsen added.
The Fashiba product will be developed by Esoko, in collaboration with a network of agro input dealers and mobile network operators. It is a virtual platform where farmers can order and pre-pay inputs which will be delivered through registered agro dealers once the farmers have pre-paid the costs of these inputs in their mobile wallet.
One advantage of the platform is that it will help farmers plan and pay for inputs in order to make sure quality inputs are accessed on time at reasonable prices. The platform will communicate to farmers through SMS services to encourage pre-payments and to provide agronomic tips, weather and market information during the pre-harvest and post-harvest seasons.
Together with the MasterCard Foundation and other partners, AGRA seeks to provide the necessary environment and innovative tools that will enable millions of smallholder farmers across Africa attain full potential in their agriculture activities as a way of promoting food security and pulling themselves out of poverty.
The FISFAP project, will therefore play a major role in supporting this cause in the interest of millions of smallholder farmers that includes women and the youth, as Fashiba, among other things, will coordinate the activities of various key partners, identify and register farmers, help to market farmers’ products, on-board farmers into mobile wallet platform, as well as train and build capacities of field agents who support farmers’ pre-payment for agro inputs.
The MasterCard Foundation works with visionary organizations to provide greater access to education, skills training and financial services for people living in poverty, primarily in sub-Sahara Africa. Based in Toronto, Canada, it was created in 2006. AGRA, on the other hand, advances uniquely African solutions to sustainably raise farmers’ productivity and connect them to a growing marketplace.
Esoko works to strengthen the entire agricultural value chain, by providing a platform of content and software to agri-businesses, farmers’ associations, NGOs and mobile operators to make supply chains more efficient in order to realize organizational cost savings.