Scratch-card payments for better harvests
Smallholder farmers face many challenges, with one of the biggest being cash flow: their income peaks at harvest time, but their greatest expenditure is in the planting season, when they need to invest in quality seeds and fertilisers. But by then their cash is already depleted. myAgro helps small farmers in Senegal pay little by little in advance for agricultural inputs and training, using their mobile phones and a simple bank-less digital payment system. Whenever they have a little extra cash, the farmers buy prepaid myAgro scratch cards that are used in the same way as for topping up the minutes on their mobile phone accounts. This payment system allows them to make small payments towards their agricultural inputs regularly throughout the year, so they have enough available for the planting season. In 2018, myAgro’s 45,000 farmers saw a 50% increase in average harvest. We are supporting myAgro in Senegal to reach 75,000 farmers (54% women) in 528 villages over the next three years.
In Senegal, around 60% of the population relies on agriculture as their main economic activity and almost 30% live on less than $1.25 a day. A lack of access to credit and saving accounts, quality seeds and fertilizer, and modern agricultural training prevents small farmers from permanently moving out of poverty.
Essentially, smallholder farmers have a cash flow problem: their income peaks at harvest time, but planting season is when they need cash the most to purchase quality seeds and fertilisers. Sadly, this is normally when the money has already run out.
Operating through a network of trained, equipped and commission-based village entrepreneurs, myAgro sells packages of high-quality seeds, fertilisers, agricultural tools and training. Small farmers use myAgro’s bank-less digital payment (or mobile layaway) system to access these products and services: they buy a prepaid scratch card with a value of between $1 and $50 at their village store whenever they have extra cash, scratch-off the back to reveal a secret code and then send it in a text message to myAgro. The value of the card is then allocated to the farmer’s savings account, allowing farmers to make small payments until the packages they want to purchase are paid in full, in time for the next planting season.
myAgro field agents provide ongoing support and guidance to ensure a good harvest after the farmers have received the inputs they paid for and have finished planting. They offer training on effective harvest storage to prevent crop loss and seed selection to ensure the farmers pick the best seeds to be ready for the next planting season.
In their first 6 years of operation, myAgro programmes have seen crop yields increase by 40% and annual net farm income rise by an average of 50%. For a family living on less than $1.25 per day, a daily increase like that not only alleviates food insecurity, but truly transforms lives, encouraging important investments in health, education and asset diversification.
We are supporting myAgro in Senegal to reach 75,000 farmers (54% women) in 528 villages over the next three years.
Currently present in central and eastern Senegal, myAgro plans to increase its presence in the peanut basin of central Senegal and begin operations in the Casamance region. myAgro has developed an effective, replicable model and their ongoing expansion in Senegal is a critical strand in an ambitious plan to lift one million farmers out of poverty by 2025.