The Managing Director, Fortis Mobile Money Limited, Mr. Samuel Oladimeji, has said the company is empowering smallholder farmers through its initiative, Digital Finance for Rural Agricultural Development.
Oladimeji said the product, DiFRAD, was developed last year for smallholder farmers, especially the ones in the rural and peri-urban communities.
He was quoted in a statement as saying, “This is a digital agricultural initiative. The product was inspired by a first-hand encounter with some farming communities in Niger and Cross River states during some of our cash transfer programmes.
“We discovered that most of our beneficiaries are actually farmers who are constrained by lack of financial services and sometimes know-how. We immediately started toying with the idea of filling their gap by bringing the banks to them and linking them with agricultural developers.”
Oladimeji said to achieve this, the company had to partner with microfinance banks, agricultural developers and insurance companies as it worked on a suite of products that would cater to the needs of the farmers.
He said, “We, in partnership with the microfinance banks and insurance companies, finance the entire value chain. It is our passion to end the marginalisation of smallholder farmers by buyers and even nature by providing knowledge and guidance as they journey through the digital finance value chain.
“Our package even extends to the provision of inputs and we have consulted critical expertise to look at the proposition and ensure that we achieve the desired impact. This is why the whole process is mostly digital and going digital guarantees a level of transparency.”
He said the farmers would be exposed to micro loans, micro savings, micro insurance and knowledge sharing.
Oladimeji said, “At Fortis Money, we see ourselves as a socially responsible organisation and DiFRAD, to us, is part of the ways we give back to the community. The overarching goal is to reduce the poverty level in rural communities seeing that their most recurrent occupation is farming. Smallholder farmers are actually the providers of about 85 per cent of the locally produced food in the circulation in the markets.”