|“The least that governments can do is to support digitizing the operations of small-scale farmers because it is going to transform agriculture.” Hon. Brigadier Marco Elias Gaguti, the Regional Commissioner – Kagera region, Tanzania
The majority of smallholder bean farmers, in Tanzania, have not benefited from the potential market gains from the bean value chain. This is, due to disaggregation and poor linkages with markets – compounded by lack of financial inclusion. Technological innovations such as digitization of smallholder farmers’ operations present the most plausible trajectory towards unsettling their exclusion from the market
With support from ABC-PABRA and MasterCard, a partnership between Karagwe Development & Relief Services (KADERES), Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI)- Maruku, district councils, and other local partners, –premised on endeavoring to understand the farmers’ pressing needs and bridging the gap by providing lasting solutions.
KADERES is a cooperative organization located in the north-west of Tanzania (Kagera region) trading with multiple commodities. The bean trader works in four districts (Missenyi, Muleba, Kyerwa, Karagwe) providing a ready market to 250,000 beans, maize, and coffee farmers. The company focuses on three-bean market classes namely yellows, red mottled, and red kidneys.
Farmers registered with KADERES primarily focus on bean production for sale with a clear vision based on the symbiotic relationship between bean research and the entire value chain. TARI Maruku in partnership with ABC-PABRA supports the company by providing training on good agronomic practices (GAP) and availing quality seed of market preferred bean varieties to KADERES’ farmers who are multiplying both bean seed and grain.
For a big aggregator such as KADERES, working with a large number of farmers; paying and moving volumes that are traded both locally and regionally has necessitated seeking digital solutions. The MasterCard Farmer Network (MFN) digital solution, supported by ABC-PABRA and MasterCard has eased KADERES’ process of registration, paying, and tracking of bean volumes. The platform has also made it easier for tracking sales. The MFN provides a service for farmers and aggregators to register in the digital produce collection and payment. Farmers receive real-time information through their mobile phones based on the submitted grain and eventually get paid through the mobile money system or bank account.
“For the last 6 months, we have sold 108.1 tons of Njano Uyole and 34.7 tons of Lyamungu 90 bean varieties. We have paid out a total amount of US $ 142,000 to the farmer via their Agricultural Market Cooperatives (AMCOs).” This has substantially contributed to improved households’ incomes. In one of the Cooperatives, 63 members (34 women) have received about USD 38,000 from the sale of 70 tons of beans. This helped them pay school fees and other expenses for their children. This system does not only ensures easy and convenient sale of the grain, but it also ensures quick access and safety of my clients’ money especially women who are the bulk of bean producers. TARI Maruku and ABC-PABRA continue to support us through researching and developing improved bean varieties that most of our buyers are looking for such as the Red kidney type. This will help to increase farmers’ incomes’’ said Leonard Kachebonaho – the Executive Secretary, KADERES
The multi-functional MFN hosted platform digitalizes market places, payments, workflows, and farmers’ transaction histories. It also includes farmer profiling, geo-referencing, communication management, placement of orders and collection management, financial services, Agri–input management, and value-added services. The total registered KADERES farmers under MFN are 230, 000 while active members (using MFN functions) of the cooperatives are 3,300 farmers who grow beans and other crops. Total produce (including beans, maize, and coffee) sold through the MFN platform by December 2019 was USD 1.38 million. Women who transacted through the platform are about 27%, while usually beans produced by women, but mainly marketed by men. The MFN envisages working with the flow from farmers – aggregators (AMCOS – KADERES). All aggregation and transaction history of the farmers is saved in the cloud with limited access and restricted editing. The history is important in order for the aggregators (agricultural marketing cooperatives) to access credit from financial institutions over time. Already, two banks (NMB and CRDB) are now offering credit facilities to produce aggregators (AMCOS) that are participating in the MFN program. During the last season, about USD 1.8million was extended to AMCOS to pay off producers delivering produce using MFN platform. On-going discussions with CRDB bank will open more financing opportunities for produce to aggregate produce and support operations of the AMCOS.
Through Improving Bean Productivity & Marketing in Africa(IBPMA) project, PABRA is supporting KADERES to expand active farmer membership to about 50,000 (from the current 3,000) by end of this year. “The Government of Tanzania is highly supportive of MFN because of its inclusiveness, transparent marketing, and higher return to our farmers. We greatly appreciate this partnership’’ The Kagera Regional Commissioner said.