The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) confirms closure by end of 2020.
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Plug and Play

Plug and Play

Plug and Play day - Linking farmers to markets


M-Trader provides access to credit for small businesses who are considered unbankable by traditional financiers. It gives them advances against payments that are due for products or services delivered. Right now it focuses on small businesses in Kenya, but plans to expand its reach into East, West and Southern Africa. M-Trader is both a mobile and a web application. And unlike many current alternatives, it provides finance as well as information.

The web application is tailored to suit the needs of processors, while the mobile application, which runs on the Android platform, is designed for small-scale suppliers. The model of paying is transactional orfreemium and the costs are borne by the users, such as farmers and traders. M-Farmer is an initiative of Umati Capital, a Kenyan non-bank financial intermediary focusing on the provision of supply chain finance across various value chains.


Ensibuuko is a mobile and web application that integrates automated SMS and mobile money services to enable cash transfers and payments by mobile phone. The app's special features allow users to make easy transfers of loans and savings to and for cooperatives that serve unbanked and under-financed farmers. Ensibuuko can be used both on smartphones and feature phones, making it especially convenient for ordinary rural farmers.

The application's special features enable farmers organised in cooperatives to modify it to their needs. For example, they can integrate their mobile money accounts with a common group account to enable secure and convenient transfer of either savings, loans or loan repayments. They can use the app to track and generate a credit and savings record in the back-end.

Ensibuuko has been introduced as a pilot project in Uganda. It targets farmers and non-finance organisations that are interested in providing finance to the unbanked and under-financed groups of farmers.

Farm Drive

Farm Drive is a web-based record-keeping application that helps farmers to maintain revenue and expense records. It enables them to access visualised analytical data on farm performance, such as weekly expenses, revenues and an accurate reflection of overall performance. The greatest benefit of FarmDrive is that it bypasses traditional methods of acquiring finance, such as bank loans, and goes directly to individual or group investors for financing farmers.

FarmDrive is accessible from any device with an internet connection and is not platform-specific. It addresses a major challenge facing smallholder farming enterprises, namely their lack of access to financial services and key information that will help improve their businesses. This challenge is a major bottleneck preventing smallholder farming enterprises from exploiting their potential to develop into fully fledged agribusinesses.

The model of paying for FarmDrive is transactional or freemium. It has been introduced as a pilot in Kenya. Its target audience consists of farmers and investors interested in agri-business. Farm Drive's slogan is 'the name of the game is using technology to innovate for smallholder farmers.


CIS is a credit information sharing system. As such, it is a highly innovative mechanism for collecting and collating borrower loan data from financial institutions, through credit reference bureaus licensed by the Central Bank of Kenya. The intention is to enhance credit risk management among lenders and reward good borrowers with favourable credit terms such as reduced reliance on tangible collateral and lower cost of credit. CIS also aims to unlock access to affordable credit. It collates a borrower's information from multiple sources (banks, monetary financial institutions and public registries, for example) into one record, called a credit report. Lenders then access and use the credit report in appraising loan applications.

CIS helps to address the challenges of accessing credit by reducing the information imbalance between borrowers and lenders. As such, reduced reliance on tangible collateral and a faster turnaround time processing credit result in increased access to affordable credit for farmers who are often locked out of the credit market. The system works on mobile phones and computers that can access the internet. The target users include farmers, researchers, policy makers, traders, bankers and other credit providers. It is currently limited to Kenya but will be expanded to other countries in East Africa in the near future.

Farmer management system

Vest Farm Tanzania's farmer management system was developed by South African firm Finico Technologies as a management instrument in the value chain to aggregate the different individual activities performed by the various actors. This, in turn, aggregates the various supply and demand activities within the value chain. The system is an extremely flexible management platform that can mitigate risk especially if structured to relate to farmers' organisations. The system is essentially a tool that - within farmers' organisations - makes it possible to control and manage credit given to farmers. It gives farmers access to accredited input suppliers and the benefit of better prices due to economies of scale.

The farmer management system serves as an electronic wallet for the producer. The producer, in turn, is linked to specific suppliers within a defined ecosystem. This electronic wallet has various accounts which enable the production and trade transactions to be captured in the detail reguired by the actors within the ecosystem or value chain. The management services include financiaI management, procurement, marketing, process management, monitoring and evaluation, audit trail, and the coordination of farmer services.

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A 2013 study entitled Market in their Palms conclusively shows that the use of mobile apps by smallholder farmers in Kenya has helped them to gain access to markets and market information and improved their businesses.


Imarah Radix tells us about her experience at the ‘training of trainers’ workshop for young agricultural extension workers conducted by the Caribbean Farmers network and COLeACP in Saint Lucia in December 2013


In October 2013, the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA) put out a call for papers, case studies and synthesis papers. The purpose of the call was to publish and disseminate experiences and success stories in ACP countries - or experiences and success stories that were relevant to ACP countries - that can inspire the rejuvenation of smallholder agriculture there.

Past issues

ICT Update N. 91

Next-generation ACP agriculture - innovations that work

ICT Update N. 90

Women and Digitalisation in Agriculture

ICT Update N. 89

Data4Ag: New opportunities for organised smallholder farmers

ICT Update N. 88

Unlocking the potential of blockchain for agriculture

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