Safaricom is expected to be one of the beneficiaries of the fertiliser subsidy plan after the Ministry of Agriculture said it would use the platform of the giant telco in the rollout for the next planting season.
This will allow more than 10 million farmers to use Safarciom’s platform under the government-backed e-wallet system.
The Ministry of Agriculture says it has narrowed on Safaricom for the implementation of the electronic platform because of its reliability and vast reach across the country.
Agriculture PS Kellow Harsama says the meeting to strategise the use of the technology in the distribution of fertiliser has already started as they seek to beat President William Ruto’s deadline on implementation.
“We shall be working with Safaricom on the implementation of this e-subsidy programme to ensure that it is accomplished. We have worked with them on a smaller project before and it was successful,” said Mr Harsama.
In 2016, Safaricom said it had developed and deployed a system that would be used in the e-subsidy programme after winning the tender in 2015 when they beat 29 other companies that had expressed interest.
E-subsidy is an electronic vouchering solution that makes use of data and Short Message Service (SMS) to manage the issuing, redemption and reconciliation of vouchers on behalf of the Ministry of Agriculture.
Once details have been captured, the growers will receive a text message from the service provider confirming their registration details, the agro-dealers participating in their locality and the availability of fertiliser.
President Ruto early this month directed the Ministry of Agriculture to come up with a digital plan that would see farmers get fertiliser through money transfer on their e-wallets as opposed to the traditional use of the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) in distribution.
The e-wallet initiative is aimed at curbing fertiliser theft and misappropriation as witnessed before when farmers would collect the commodity directly from the NCPB depots.
The PS said farmers would collect the six million bags of fertiliser from their nearest agro vets that would be registered under this programme.
The government rolled out the e-voucher programme in a pilot phase in 2020, but it was only directed to small-scale farmers in selected counties who received money through their mobile phones to purchase the farm inputs from approved agro vets.
The State stopped the subsidy that was being issued through NCPB three years ago in favour of the e-voucher programme.
Under the e-voucher, farmers were issued the e-vouchers through their mobile phones after validation by extension officers.
They would then be given a Pay Bill number to make payments and receive a text message confirmation from Safaricom, which they would take to participating agro vets to collect their inputs.