Why Safaricom is projecting DigiFarm will eclipse M-Pesa in 5 years

Safaricom Chief Financial Services Officer Sitoyo Lopokoiyit is betting on the telco’s mobile agriculture platform ‘Digifarm’ to outpace M-Pesa in performance in the next five years.

Lopokoiyit said the projection is backed by the rate of growth of farmers on the platform, which he says has been phenomenal.

“Using the mobile technology platform, smallholder farmers get access to information on financial services. They also receive discounted products, customized information and tutorials on farming practices,” he added.

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Digifarm was introduced to the Kenyan market in 2017, through a partnership between Safaricom and iProcure, Arifu and Farmdrive.

According to Lopokoiyit, the platform remains focused on digitizing the entire agriculture value chain and has so far registered over 1 million farmers on the platform where the platform is projected to be worth US$1 Billion by 2020.

But M-Pesa, which was launched in 2007, had 1.2 million users a year after it was launched and generated Sh74.9 billion to Safaricom in the year ending March 31. With more services being added to M-Pesa such as the fast-growing Fuliza overdraft facility, it remains to be seen how DigiFarm will outpace M-Pesa which has 30 million customers.

However, DigiFarm’s impressive growth is still outstanding.

As of 2018, over 200,000 farmers were using the service daily and 7,000 successfully taking out loans to assist with purchasing high-quality seeds, fertilizers and pesticides.

Farmers also get to share information, such as expected yields with processors, with all the financial transactions taking place within the M-PESA ecosystem.

Safaricom partnered with on-demand agricultural input supplier iProcure, credit scoring/farmer profiling company FarmDrive and Arifu for interactive information services and e-learning.

DigiFarm is accessible on any type of phone through its’ USSD based platform accessed by dialing *283# with plans to launch an Android in 2019.

According to a Mercycorp Agrifin paper, Safaricom plans to reach more than 3 million farmers over the next two years.

“Safaricom is continuously working on iterating and building the DigiFarm suite of services to including insurance and other key services, such as access to mechanization and transport services,” notes Mercycorp