DigiFarm, a Safaricom subsidiary, offers Kenyan smallholder farmers end to end value through their integrated mobile phone platform where they can access information on credit, input and markets. AgriFin has worked with Busara to assess the adoption, usage and outcomes of DigiFarm’s digital services.
DigiFarm, a Safaricom subsidiary, is an integrated mobile platform for digital services targeting farmers. With a basic feature phone, Kenyan smallholder farmers can access advisory services, market linkages, inputs, input credits and crop insurance. DigiFarm has had over 1.3 million registered users since its launch and with additional features, it has become a one-stop shop for Kenyan farmers.
An Overview of the DigiFarm Services (see full case study)
This study aimed to unpack the main DigiFarm users in Kenya, their experiences on the platform and the impact of adopting and using DigiFarm services. Like many other activities, COVID-19 impaired the usual activities of DigiFarm and smallholder farmers.
Adoption, Usage and Experience
- Access to loans (i.e. using credit to get input) and Arifu’s learning experience are the most used and valued services. Services that address the users’ urgent needs or daily needs are more likely to attract users and retain them such as inputs and input credit during planting season. The flexible and convenient learning experience with Arifu is highly valued. Farmers suggested including in-person contact to facilitate the learning process, such as calls to experts and in-person training for farmers with limited literacy.
- Farmers hold different attitudes towards selling products online, but all shared positive experiences with market linkages. Fair prices and the ability to repay using revenues from this market are most appreciated by the users.
Meaningful Changes Brought by DigiFarm Services
- Users shifted their attitude and behavior and started seeking digital solutions to fulfill long-term purposes. Arifu and other SMS-based advisory services have become the most highly valued channels for gaining additional knowledge on better farming practices. During external shocks, users seek timely and comprehensive advice from DigiFarm or Safaricom SMS. In addition, more users have started using the mobile wallet as the primary saving platform.
- Overall, users have been able to expand farm or agricultural businesses, save more, gain knowledge on good farming practices, are able to pay school fees, and build capacity for external shocks. Farmers who have been using multiple services from DigiFarm have reported positive impacts in more dimensions and encouraged some farmers to explore other digital services.
- The farmers reported a significant improvement in their farming profit between October 2020 and February 2021. Farming profit is calculated by deducting expenditures on seed, fertilizer and labor from the revenue of the primary crop.
- Well-bundled services found to drive the perceived impact. in terms of their capacity, resilience and farming outcomes. Involving service providers like Arifu and Cropin, Digifarm has increased their offerings and in turn boosted farmers’ capacity, resilience and farming outcomes.
Influential Factors for Usage
- Onboarding through Digital Village Agents (DVA), receiving training, and practising crop farming significantly drives the usage of DigiFarm services. Receiving training significantly contributed to subsequent active usage of the service.
- Human contact is highly preferred and valued during onboarding, as well as for any follow-ups. Follow up is believed to be essential for not only addressing technical challenges but also to demonstrate a sense of care to users.