Article written by Peris Bosire, FarmDrive.
In Africa, young farmers face many hurdles in trying to earn a livelihood from agriculture. Lack of access to capital, among other constraints, is a major challenge that most young farmers face. Nonetheless, with the right capital and skills, agribusiness can be profitable for youth.
FarmDrive is a technology platform with a suite of applications aimed at increasing the availability of capital to smallholder farmers. In partnership with CTA, FarmDrive is organising 20 mobile training sessions dubbed 'Apps4Ag Learning Opportunities'. These sessions will help young farmers learn how to use FarmDrive's financial management tool to keep farm records, receive agronomic recommendations, benefit from mobile money payments, and access loans and other digital financial services. The workshops will be held across different regions in Kenya and will provide hands-on experience to a total of 500 young farmers and other agricultural stakeholders. FarmDrive will create comprehensive credit profiles for the young farmers who can then apply to receive credit from lending partners through their mobile phones.
The Apps4Ag Learning Opportunity will also help the FarmDrive application, which was developed through CTA's AgriHack initiative in Eastern Africa, to gather knowledge that will help strengthen its business model.
Successful initial workshop
The first Apps4Ag Learning Opportunity workshop was held on 12 February 2016, in Manga village in Borabu county, Kisii Region. The 1-day session was attended by 29 young farmers, the district agronomist, Borabu village elders and three successful farmers from the community who came to share their experiences of accessing credit through FarmDrive's technology. The participants were trained on how to register for the FarmDrive platform on their mobile phones and keep accurate farm records.
Most of the youth admitted to not keeping proper farm records, which means that they do not know if or how they are making profits/losses from their farming activities. They are not even aware which agricultural activities are the most viable in their area.
The young farmers were delighted at the prospect of being able to apply for loans and receive the funds via their mobile phones. In addition, they were excited to hear that by using their records, they were able to gain access to favourable loan terms that correlate with their farming activities. The credit is coupled with insurance to mitigate against financial losses.
Cleophas Onyiego, one of the young farmers, stated that: "Most of us are afraid to take loans because we are scared that we'll lose our property, like motorbikes, to banks if the crops fail. For some of us, we don't own any land. It belongs to our parents therefore we don't have collateral that the banks want. With FarmDrive's solution, our village has the potential to grow and we can supply food to the population." The enthusiasm and curiosity of the participants was palpable as they all tried out the technology to gauge its potential impact on their activities.
FarmDrive is proud to partner with CTA on this project and looks forward to supporting CTA's efforts in the uptake, utilisation and upscaling of innovative and tested apps for agriculture among end-users, especially the youth. This activity falls within the framework of CTA's Agriculture, Rural Development and Youth in the Information Society (ARDYIS) project.
CTA's AgriHack and