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Safaricom, Agriculture Ministry streamline subsidy system

June 3, 2015 • Digital Farming, East Africa

Safaricom and Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries have embarked on the pilot of a joint initiative that aims at empowering farmers with access to a technology-based solution for the distribution of fertilizer and other key inputs.

The solution, named ‘E-fertilizer Subsidy Management System’, is an electronic vouchering solution that has been specially developed for the Ministry by Safaricom, allowing farmers to access vouchers via their mobile phones. It will also enable the Government to plan future requirements in terms of fertilizer types and quantities

The vouchers will be used by the farmers to access Government fertilizer at subsidized prices. “Traditionally, the process of getting subsidies to farmers has been time intensive and inefficient as there was no single way to reach them all effectively. Our solution, should the pilot be successful, will allows us to increase transparency in the allocation of fertilizer to over 3.5 million small-holder farmers across the country using mobile phones,” said Sicily Kariuki, Principal Secretary, State Department of Agriculture.

E-Fertilizer Subsidy leverages data and SMS services to manage the issuance, redemption and reconciliation of vouchers on behalf of the MoALF input subsidization intervention program. The solution offers simple reporting capabilities in order to improve decision support for the Ministry, which is charged with distributing fertilizer inputs to farmers across the country.

Registration of farmers to benefit from the program as well as agro-dealers is being carried out by the Ministry. The information will be stored within a central database which will then be used to ensure that each farmer is allocated the correct amount of fertilizer.

The solution also allows for the verification and vetting of farmer profiles, as well as allowing those in the system to request, redeem and reconcile vouchers through their mobile phones. As envisaged earlier, a dry system run will be done in Uasin Gishu, Trans Nzoia and Bungoma counties in preparation for next season subsidy fertilizer distribution. In this regard, the Ministry appeals to farmers to register for the program in during the dry run.

“Mobile technology has the ability to revolutionize traditional distribution models and enhance supply chain issues. This turn-key solution is just one of several that Safaricom hopes will transform the operations of businesses across Kenya,” said Bob Collymore, CEO of Safaricom.

The solution will also allow the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock & Fisheries to establish a network of dealers and reduce the cost of distribution of fertilizer to farmers while creating a first-of-a-kind database of stakeholders such as Agro-dealers, County agricultural extension workers, and Ministry of Agriculture staff.

The program is one of a number of interventions that the Ministry hopes will streamline access to vital services and products in the agriculture sector, including using technology to provide information services to farmers.

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