The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), has announced an $867,788 grant to Esoko Ghana for the implementation of MasterCard Foundation project to boost agro input supply for smallholder farmers.
The 36-month project is expected to support the deployment of an innovative technology solution called: “Fasiba,” which aimed at helping more than 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 Financial Inclusion for Smallholder Farmers in Africa Project (FISFAP), managed by AGRA.
The MasterCard Foundation works with organisations to provide access to education, skills training and financial services for people living in poverty primarily in sub-Saharan African.
The Fasiba product would be developed by Esoko Ghana in collaboration with a network of agro input dealers and mobile network operators.
Esoko is a technology platform that works to strengthen the agricultural value chain by providing content and software to agri-businesses, farmer associations and mobile operators.
Mr Daniel Asare-Kyei, Managing Director of Esoko Ghana said the Fasiba product is a virtual platform where farmers could order and pre-pay inputs, which would be delivered through registered agro dealers once the farmers have pre-paid the costs of these inputs in their mobile wallet.
The platform communicates with farmers through SMS services to encourage pre-payments and to provide agronomics tips, weather and market information during the pre-harvest and post-harvest seasons.
He explained that the platform would help farmers to plan and pay for inputs in order to make sure quality inputs are accessed on time at reasonable prices.
Mrs Hedwig Siewertsen, Team Leader of AGRA’s FISFAP said timely access to quality and affordable inputs has been a major challenge for many smallholder farmers in the country, and as a result, farmers end up putting in a lot of effort but have little results to show, affecting their living condition.
She explained that it was on this premise that the technology was introduced to ensure that farmers improve their livelihoods through increased productivity and incomes.
“Together with the MasterCard Foundation and other partners, AGRA seeks to provide the necessary environment and innovative tools to enable millions of smallholder farmers across Africa attain full potential in their agricultural activities to promote food security and reduce poverty,” she added.
She said Fasiba product would coordinate the activities of various key partners, identify and register farmers, help to market farmers’ products, on-board farmers onto the mobile wallet platform and build the capacities of field agents to support farmers pre-payment for agro inputs.
Mr Fadel Ndiame, Head of the West Africa, AGRA said the organisation had built a strong foundation in the country, working with more than 95 grantees and disbursed $60 million of funding for agriculture.
He said AGRA’s new strategic plan for the country’s agriculture sector is to double the incomes of another 21 million more farm households through grantees, partners to policies and partnerships that increase productivity and access to market from 2016 to 2020.