Global experts say digital platforms transforming lives of Kenyan smallholders

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Kenyan small scale farmers have leveraged on mobile-based applications to enhance financial inclusion, market linkages and access to information about weather and climate-resilient agronomic practices, experts said on Tuesday.

The experts and policymakers who met at a forum in Nairobi said that Kenya’s robust innovation ecosystem has been a boon to local smallholders thanks to greater access to credit, farm inputs and market.

Leesa Shrader, the director of programs at Agrifin Accelerate program affiliated with Mercy Corps, an international development charity, said that access to technology and innovations has revolutionized subsistence farming in Kenya.

“Kenyan smallholder farmers who have adopted these cutting edge innovations have recorded higher productivity and incomes despite challenges linked to climate change and market disruptions,” said Shrader.

More than 300 participants including policymakers, researchers, innovators and financial experts are attending the Nairobi forum to share best practices that can enhance the financial inclusion of smallholders.

Shrader said that Kenya is a trailblazer in adoption of mobile-based applications by small scale farmers to facilitate access to weather information, market trends and improved agronomy.

“We have reached more than 2 million Kenyan smallholder farmers with digital tools to help address traditional challenges like inability to access capital, inputs and market for their produce,” said Shrader.

Kenya is among five African countries including Tanzania, Zambia, Ethiopia and Nigeria, which have benefitted from a five-year program funded by Mercy Corps and Master Card Foundation to promote financial inclusion among smallholder farmers.

Shrader said that 3 million small scale farmers in the five countries have benefitted from the 24 million dollars program through access to digital tools that transform agricultural value chains.

Araba Adebis, director for Africa at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture said that friendly policies and regulations are required to foster the uptake of technology and innovations in Kenya’s subsistence farming sector.

“The small holder farmers should be provided with policy and regulatory incentives to enable them adopt technologies and enhance transition from subsistence to commercially viable farming,” said Adebis. Enditem

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