Safaricom is working with Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries to launch an electronic vouchering solution dubbed ‘E-fertilizer Subsidy Management System’, to allow farmers to access vouchers via their mobile phones.
The partners say this will enable the Government to plan future requirements in terms of fertilizer types and quantities as 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.
Farmers and agro-dealers who want this e-vouchers ought to register with the Ministry so that they can request, redeem and reconcile vouchers through their mobile phones. The first pilot will be done in Uasin Gishu, Trans Nzoia and Bungoma counties.
“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, 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.
“As at the beginning of this month, a total of 510,000MT of various types of fertilizers had been imported into the country against an estimated demand of 490,000MT for food crops, tea, sugar cane and coffee production. There are therefore enough stocks of planting and topdressing fertilizers.” Agriculture Principal Secretary, Sicily Kariuki says, adding that the Government is in the process of availing an additional 12,000MT of topdressing subsidized fertilizer.
The public, she says, should also note that fertilizers imported into the country are subjected to pre-shipment inspections for Kenya fertilizer standards by quality control firms contracted by Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) and certificates of conformity issued before shipment. The PS says that in a very unfortunate case, a routine check at the port revealed that a consignment of 7,260 MT of NPK 23:23:0 imported by NCPB this month did not meet two parameters of the fertilizer standard (KS 158:2012) for compound fertilizers.