Sixty-two trainers have finished a two-day training to be digital ambassadors in the agriculture sector by training farmers on how to pay for agriculture inputs digitally, in a partnership between Bank of Kigali and Rwanda Agricultural Board (RAB).
The trainers finished basic training on registering and using “Ikofi”, Bank of Kigali’s digital financial product targeting farmers and Smart Nkunganire System (SNS), a digital platform under RAB
Both digital platforms have been linked to enable farmers to buy agricultural inputs including seeds and fertilizers using Ikofi through SNS system.
The training held in Kigali city from 3 to 5th aimed at increasing agriculture productivity, increase farmer’s benefits by buying seeds and fertilizers on government subsidized prices and part of the measures to stop the spread of New Coronavirus.
“The training was basically about using both digital systems, and helping farmers to embrace them. We shall work as fundamental ambassadors to digital agriculture by teaching farmers how to register on these digital platforms and the benefits that come with them,” Egide Ahishakiye, a trainee said.
“We are going back to train, farmers, agronomists and Sales Economical Development Officers (SEDO) in villages on embracing digital systems and buying agriculture inputs from agro-dealers and agri-businesses digitally through SNS,”
“The world is shifting to a digital way of doing things and farmers too should. These digital systems are quick, safe, and importantly protect farmers against COVID-19. It is simple to register on Ikofi and SNS, ordering and paying for agriculture inputs. These digital platforms are free,” Ahishakiye said.
To register on SNS, a farmer dials *774# on a mobile phone, puts a national identity card number, and follows prompts to complete the process.
The farmer also needs to know the UPI number of land used for farming activities. The farmer will be registered and then validated by the local government authority in charge of agriculture including, agronomists and SEDOs to make sure the provided information is accurate.
For Ikofi, it is accessible by dialing *334*2#, register using your National ID, then follow instructions. Farmers can send and receive money free of charge (zero transaction fee), anytime, to anyone, according to Thierry Nshuti, the Head of Communication and Marketing at Bank of Kigali.
“The SNS is smart, it shows the size of the farm, what the farmer plants and agriculture inputs used. This gives a clear picture of the farmers’ input and the harvest projection; we get the financial history of the farmer easily, which will become the determinant factor for farmers’ loans in the nearby future,” Nshuti said.
“With the farmer’s data, we shall give him/her a loan because we analyze the capacity to produce crops and the possibility to pay back the loan. This is the development we look in the agriculture sector. We are still completing the farmer’s loan study to assess the market situation. It will be out soon,” he adds
According to Nshuti, the farmer’s loan will not require for the loan security and documents. All information will be got from the SNS database.
“We hope farmers will not fail to plant crops because they don’t have seeds or fertilizers, they will be asking for loans digitally. We believe this will increase productivity,” Nshuti said.
“Today, we are completing the training of trainers; they are supposed to go back in their respective districts, sectors, and villages to train farmers and agronomists, on registering and using Ikofi to pay for agriculture inputs through SNS system,”Nshuti noted.
According to RAB, 1.5million farmers have been registered to SNS. Egide Gatari, the Agricultural Inputs Subsidies program manager at RAB says they hope all farmers can take up digital transactions to make their work easier.
“The target is encouraging all the 1.5milion farmers to pay for agriculture inputs using Ikofi, and registering more farmers on the digitals systems, to pay the farmers just dials *774# and then going to payment mode and select Ikofi, it is easy,” Gatari said.
He added that the trainers are expected to train farmers on how to register themselves using their phones and pay for their agriculture inputs using Ikofi. Famers will be buying seeds and fertilizers on government-subsidized prices.
“The government has put Rwf14 billion to be subsidized to seeds and fertilizers; this is a good deal to farmers who will be paying digitally, when you log in to payment on Ikofi, it shows you the amount you are supposed to pay and what the government has subsidized on every type of seed and fertilizer,”Gatari said.