Gates, Mastercard Launch New Platform for Smallholder Farmers
Digital technology has long been touted as the key to helping smallholder farmers around the world overcome barriers that have kept them trapped in poverty, though initial innovations did not always deliver on this promise. Now developers of digital tools for agriculture are trying to refine their offerings, focusing on products that farmers want to use and that align with their priorities. And at the top of that list is getting fair prices for their products.
“Farmers want direct access to markets,” said Daniel Monehin, MasterCard’s division president for sub-Saharan Africa. Through MasterCard Labs for Financial Inclusion — its research and development arm — the company launched 2Kuze earlier this month, a pilot program that connects farmers in Kenya directly to buyers, who buy and then collect their product without the services of middlemen who can cut into a farmer’s profit.
2Kuze, drawn from a Swahili word that means “let’s grow together,” builds on lessons from earlier digital efforts, including introducing a service that is holistic and only requires farmers to have a feature phone.