The project which encompasses five relevant interventions aims to push the ‘banking frontier’ down the poverty line thereby increasing access to financial services, through which micro-enterprises, subsistence farmers and low-income households can increase their economic activities and ultimately improve their livelihoods. As has been experienced globally, the pandemic has forced the project to apply ‘out-of-the-box’ solutions to forge ahead with its annual plans with the hope of still achieving the intended impact among the bottom poor.
The innovation lab intervention which comprises Warehouse Receipt System (WRS) and Contract Farming accelerated the deployment of affordable and easy to use digital agricultural solutions to support farmers in the rural areas who continue with their production as normal. The support was initiated to reduce post-harvest losses and has been disseminated using channels available to the rural smallholders. With improved internet and smartphone penetration in rural areas, the project chose to reach out to smallholders and farmer groups through the mobile application ‘WhatsApp’ which is being used to provide advice on good agricultural practices. The programme also shared apps that link farmers to lucrative markets and logistical services. All farmer group team leaders have been guided on the registration and use of these apps. Additionally, the project has also linked local input suppliers with the farmers for continuous access to farm inputs and finance. Apart from WhatsApp, engagement and monitoring is also being handled through telephone calls.