By Mark Kawalya
If you talk to a new farmer and they are honest enough, they may disclose how, after embarking on agriculture, they discovered that success in the field was not as straight-forward as they envisioned it to be. From the lack of reliable market information, unpredictable weather patterns, delayed payments that upset cashflows, to the never-ending bottlenecks that exist in the path of accessing credit.
At the 28th National Agriculture Show, these were the topics of discussion that saw a number of farmers engaged in various farming types, ranging from plantain and coffee to sweet potatoes, attend.
Mastercard sponsored the event on the invitation from the Uganda National Farmers Federation (UNFFE) and revealed how a simple innovation was simplifying the lives of farmers and positioning them to benefit better from agriculture.
YoPay Agric, a digital platform that is powered by Mastercard, is providing workarounds to many of the challenges that farmers face.
The platform serves as a link between various players in the agricultural value chain, such as suppliers of high-grade seeds and fertilizers, credit institutions, and buyers of farm produce.
YoPay Agric can be accessed by small-scale farmers in far-flung areas who may not have access to a smartphone. All they have to do is visit agents working in local farming cooperatives and get signed up. After this, the benefits of technology are witnessed as it streamlines the value chains, automating processes like harvest collection and payment.
Benefits of YoPay Agric
The technology eases farming with features like digital crop record keeping, which eliminates the need for farmers and cooperatives to handle paper reports and the risks associated with them, like records loss.
Farming cooperatives benefit from projected harvest yield information, which enables them to negotiate fair prices with producer buyers that are interested in buying harvests.
Farmers are given the liberty to choose their preferred payment methods, which include cash, or digital payments to a bank account or to a mobile money wallet.
Digital payments are beneficial because they record transactions, enabling farmers to build a credible financial history, which can be used in credit facilitation.
So far, more than 350,000 farmers, from over 170 farming associations are using YoPay Agric, with the numbers growing. Enrolled farmers have received 50% more for their produce, which has also cut down on the amount of waste their farms generate.