Dar es Salaam. In an effort to address challenges facing small-scale farmers in Tanzania, six firms and organisations focusing on agriculture partnered on a digital platform that will help farmers to access farming inputs, markets and financing.
The platform - named ‘MkulimaHub’ - enables farmers to store data such as their agriculture activities, type of crops cultivated, size of the farm, as well as access to agriculture inputs like fertilisers, seeds, pesticides, etc.
MkulimaHub is the product of Rotai company in collaboration with BRITEN in implementing the Farm to Market Alliance (FtMA) program, a coalition of Yara, Syngenta, Rabobank, Bayer, World the Food Programme (WFP) and the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (Agra).
It also assists farmers to utilise financing and trade opportunities, including loans and insurance.
The FtMA project aims to complete the year-long strategy for the best produce markets for the farmer. The hub will be the centre of all important information. “This platform connects smallholder farmers with three-to-five hectares. We connect them with suppliers of inputs, fertilisers and financial institutions such as banks, insurance, markets and crop buyers,” said Watson Simkoko, Business Development Director of MkulimaHub.
He added that, despite the significant contribution of agriculture to GDP, small-scale farmers earn less. But, there are also challenges in accessing various services such as finance, marketing, extension services and professional advice - thus reducing the likelihood of increasing profits in their businesses.
“It is like a resource database where farmer’s information is stored, and both farmers and other stakeholders can readily access it. Information such as names of the farmer, amount and type of crops he/she harvested, size and location of the field, becomes available for other stakeholders, including potential buyers, financial institution and insurance companies,” said Mr Simkoko.
Through the platform, farmers are also able to order inputs - such as the fertiliser needed - and track their availability. The app also provides online and offline agricultural information to farmers, including and weather reports.
Currently, there are 357 groups in Njombe, Rukwa and Katavi - and the goal is to have 15,000 groups in all.
“Now, through this system, we are working with farmers in groups - and not just one farmer. We train and bring them together on one platform - and, so far, we already have groups in Njombe, Katavi and Rukwa regions. We have invested in this system for more than five years,” added Mr Simkoko.
In addition he said that there is still the challenge of infrastructure and knowledge on how to use modern technologies, since most farmers are illiterate, and they need help in using the platform.
Farmers received tablets with the MkulimaHub application from the Farm to Market Alliance (FtMA). MkulimaHub was first launched in Njombe on Friday, September 17, followed by Rukwa and Katavi on September 20.