Kenya giant network provider Safaricom has partnered with Kenya Livestock Producers Associations to host a two days Agribusiness Trade Fair in Kendu Bay Show ground in Homa Bay County.
The event brought together farmers, agricultural groups and companies and other institutions supporting agriculture such as banks and insurance companies to learn more about Safaricom’s DigiFarm mobile platform.
DigiFarm is an integrated, free-to-use mobile platform offering smallholder farmers access to a suite of information and financial services.
The mobile phone product was launched in 2017 in partnership with Safaricom as the technology partner.
Various agri-business stakeholders from Homa Bay and other counties were on Friday given an opportunity to showcase their products, learn various farming skills and interact with exhibitors from various agricultural organizations.
They included Export Processing Zone Authority (EPZA), Unga Group, Isinya Feeds, Kimir Oluch Smallholder Farmer Irrigation Project (KOSFIP), Wonder Feeds Limited and Agricultural Finance Cooperation among others.
Small scale farmers from the county got an opportunity to register with DigiFarm and get access to information regarding best farming practices, access to affordable and quality input among other practices.
According to the Chief Enterprise Officer at Safaricom, Rita Okuthe, the digital platform has given over 900,000 farmers across the country got an opportunity to register and get information on eth best farm practices.
“Our purpose is to uplift small scale farmers from subsistence farming and enable them achieve full economic benefits and make farming a profitable venture. We believe that our efforts to modernize agriculture will enable us make our country food secure by enabling farmers increase productivity, through financial and market access support,” she said.
Some of the services offered at DigiFarm include crop training, poultry farming, financial education, discounted products, customized information on best farming practices and access to credit and other financial facilities.
The data on registered farmers has allowed the county and the National government source vital data for planning and resource allocation as well as enable agricultural extension officers reach more farmers.
Farmers are able to purchase farm inputs via mobile phone cash transfer system or credit payable between 30 to 90 days.
The Homa Bay County Secretary, Isiah Ogwe who represented Governor Cyprian Awiti said the county government will increase its allocation to agriculture to promote food security.
Currently agriculture is allocated Sh. 395.7 million in the annual budget. Ogwe said eth funds will be increased further for the success of President Uhuru Kenyatta Big four agenda.
“Agriculture is the main economic activity in this county. Livestock farming is at 40 per cent while crop farming is at 50 per cent. This region is also blessed with many water bodies and farmers can practice aquaculture,” he said.
The County Agriculture Executive, Aguko Juma said his office is committed in protecting farmers, saying his department will recruit more extension officers who will guide farmers on best farming practices.
“Some of our famers have often gotten losses associated with drought, floods, pests and diseases. In order to reduce these losses, the county government will deploy more officers on the ground to educate farmers on best ways to minimize losses,” he said.
The county executive added that his department will promote the production of crops such as macadamia and bamboo that were previously not grown in the region.
“We realized that the county has a potential to produce crops whose demands are high in foreign countries. We want our farmers to embrace the growth of these crops for better income,” said Juma.
By Davis Langat