from ALEXIS DOUMBIA in Abidjan, Ivory Coast
ABIDJAN – MILLIONS of smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa are to be connected to a digital platform facilitating safer and easier means for farmers to sell their produce at competitive prices.
Mastercard and Ecobank Group have partnered to connect the farmers through the former’s Farm Pass.
Ecobank will extend the reach and impact of the Mastercard Farm Pass platform leveraging its Pan-African network of 33 countries.
The partnership aims to resolve challenges faced by smallholder farmers most who endure limited access to markets, working capital to finance activities or secure quality inputs, and relevant financial tools to pay and get paid efficiently.
This has led to insecurity, inefficiencies, and a waste of resources and food, preventing farmers from running sustainable businesses.
Farm Pass brings together various agri-sector stakeholders from the supply and demand sides, in one agricultural marketplace, amplifying the collective positive impact on farming communities.
Smallholder farmers can access quality inputs and farming information, get paid and pay digitally and develop a financial profile to unlock financing opportunities.
“Food security is a critical and urgent need in these times,” said Ade Ayeyemi, Ecobank Group Chief Executive Officer.
“We must therefore rise to the task by creating growth opportunities across the agriculture value chain in Africa,” the executive added.
According to McKinsey and Company, more than 60 percent of the population of Sub-Saharan Africa are smallholder farmers, with the agricultural sector contributing an estimated 23 percent of the continent’s gross domestic product (GDP).
Yet 3 percent of the sector receives banking credit.
Farm Pass enables smallholder farmers to build a digital transaction record to facilitate formal credit or other financial services from banks and other financial institutions.
“When we empower people, we can power economies and support economic growth that is truly inclusive,” said Michael Froman, Vice Chairman and President, Strategic Growth at Mastercard.
He explained Mastercard Farm Pass’ digital platform makes it easier for smallholder farmers to move from subsistence to commercial farming.
“This, in turn, will stimulate agricultural growth, increase competitiveness, and improve food security in Africa,” Froman added.
The African Development Bank has welcomed the initiative.
Solomon Quaynor, the bank’s Vice President for Private Sector, Infrastructure and Industrialization, said the Mastercard Farm Pass aligns to bank’s recently-approved Africa Emergency Food Production Facility.
It is to support countries to boost production and productivity on the continent for key staples.
Since its launch in 2015, Mastercard Farm Pass has reached nearly 1 million smallholder farmers in Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and India.
– CAJ News