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The Secret behind the Successful Harvest in Kenya’s Rift Valley

Digifarm is a mobile phone platform, the latest innovation by the region’s biggest telecoms operator, Safaricom. The operator, part-owned by South Africa’s Vodacom and Britain’s Vodafone, is under pressure to create new revenue streams as its voice business matures. Digifarm bypasses middlemen, giving small-holder farmers direct access to low-cost seeds and fertilizer, credit providers, and bulk purchasers of their produce. After a successful two-year pilot, during which it registered 1 million farmers of which 42,000 are active, it is on a hiring spree and seeking new logistics partners. Digifarm also offers farmers insurance against weather damage, training programmes, and advice on soil testing to increase yields. About 1,000 farmers enrolled with Digifarm are getting payouts after floods destroyed their crops. Digifarm farmers receive 10,500 shillings of credit per acre of maize, which they repay with 15% interest once the crop is sold. Once the maize is collected, Digifarm arranges a buyer who pays 33.3 shillings per kg of maize – 3.3 shillings more than traditional brokers.