The Digital Cloud that Hangs Over Every African Farm
But for most farmers, problems persist in accessing both finance and agricultural information, and banks have little understanding of farmers’ businesses. One solution relies on three-way information flows — between farmers, extension agents, and financial institutions. In this vein, Grameen Foundation has partnered with Opportunity Bank of Uganda to bundle mobile extension and financial services.
Farmers receive farming advice and information from a network of mobile-equipped agricultural extension agents; the agents also collect data on farm operations that help Opportunity Bank understand farmers’ needs and identify smallholders who are qualified for loans.
The loans enable farmers to improve their productivity and connect to markets. It’s a win-win situation that simultaneously trains farmers in best agricultural practices and financial literacy, and provides a scalable business model that benefits the bank.
As these examples show, the rapid expansion of financial inclusion and the development of mobile agriculture hold enormous promise for agricultural development. But these transformations require Africa’s government, business and civic leaders to invest in a new era of digital innovation to serve poor rural communities. Then, from the ground up to the cloud, the possibilities will be endless.