Digital Agri-Finance Strategy: How Do We Get Better Buy-In From Farmers?

Increasingly, agriculture is seen as the key entry point for the rollout of mobile finance in rural areas. Emerging innovations in mobile finance are revolutionising the agricultural value chain, and in the process they are creating alternative ways of making payments to farmers, giving them greater access to a range of financial services and reducing or eliminating supply chain credit risk.”, so said last year’s CTA’s Update article.

Our next MoMo, to be hosted by Hive Colab on Monday 29th June, will explore how digital finance actually works, and more particularly how to improve buy-in from farmers.  What have we learned about overcoming obstacles to digital inclusion; what progress has been made?  We can see the way ahead, the opportunities afforded by these technologies to improve production, and provide better standards of living to the farmers and their families, but the buy-in from farmers is still a bottleneck.  How can we accomplish this task more quickly?

We shall hear from speakers whose companies, institutions, have deployed field forces, agent networks made of up of intermediaries who connect directly with farmers and with a wide variety of other participants in the agri-value chain.  These agents have a wealth of on-the-ground experiences that inform policy initiatives aimed at increasing the buy-in by prospective beneficiaries, farmers and other players in the agri-value chain. They know the territory, customs, languages, culture and history of the people they are working with; even the subtleties of body language go into the mix such that their interaction commands respect and conveys trust in one another, a vital step toward forming friendships. Gradually they secure greater confidence to work together.  The acceptance of new practices that would allow them to better manage their crops, farms, enterprises, and make better use of mobile technologies to streamline burdensome tasks, to the end that they enjoy greater prosperity will follow.   It’s about farmers and intermediaries teaming up, learning from one another how to create opportunities for improving productivity.

This holistic approach takes in an increasing number of factors that go into the equation of farmer prosperity: the wife’s and children’s health, nutrition, children’s school fees that need to be addressed as part of an integrated solution. An incremental process for training of farmers in agricultural methods and financial and digital literacy should allow them a more balanced view, and thus militate against what someone has termed “technology dumping”, i.e the premature introduction of digital, financial, literacy to those whose readiness is wanting.

Our presenters will delve into the domain of these agents’ activities in their role as community connectors, including knowledge workers, acting as para or proxy loan facilitators, as part of the due diligence process necessary to creating a win-win in the co-creation of wealth, developing better methods for assessing credit worthiness, on the one side, and a better understanding of the farmer and his families’ needs on the other. The resulting increase in digital inclusion should enable easier access to timely knowledge and information, by all participants in the agri-value chain.

We hope you can participate and we can hear your views.  See you at MoMo Monday 29th June at Hive Colab.

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