Start-up eases farmers’ inputs headache

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One of the biggest challenges for smallholder farmers is getting the right inputs and at the right price. Inputs have increasingly become crucial as climate change continues to roil farming in uncertainty.

Elisha Caleb’s start-up Agrotech Plus seeks to ease some of that uncertainty by offering credit through agricultural inputs.

And when they take up their credit, Agrotech Plus links them to crop or index- insurance products to cushion them against climate change, boost their productivity and earnings.

“We are bundling agricultural inputs and insurance to smallholder farmers through credit,” says Caleb, 25-year-old data scientist who started the firm in 2019.

The start-up utilises village agents and agro-dealers to offer the inputs on credit.

At the start of the season and where the farmer needs inputs, they are issued with a scratch card by the dealers with a code that is sent to Agro-tech Plus to activate their accounts.

Upon taking the credit, farmers are asked to pay at least 10 percent of the value of the input and the rest of the payment made in bits before the end of the crop season or after harvest, depending on crop type.

The start-up uses geographic information system (GIS) mapping software and satellite data to map where the farmer is and know whether it’s low agricultural are, medium or high, the firm size and value chain to get an insurance package suitable for the farmer.

“This is how we are able to get a package that works for the farmer. If the farmers agree, they take the input. If there is germination, the crops are insured. If they fail, we give a farm input of equal value to start again,” noted Sharon Chacha, head of operations with Agrotech Plus.

The firm is currently working with 2,000 small-scale farmers across the country.

It’s planning to raise Sh22.8m from investors to scale up.

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