USAID ADVANCE Scales Up Mobile Financial Services for Farmers
USAID ADVANCE is supporting the maize, rice, and soybean value chains in northern Ghana to achieve food security. As part of its work, the project encourages savings among its smallholder farmers while ensuring that easy payment options are accessible to them, especially in remote areas where there’s no ready access to a bank.
Realizing that most of the farmers with whom the project works own mobile phones, the project introduced them to mobile money technology. Prior to mobile money technology, farmers travelled long distances to transact business and carried cash with its attendant risks, which was tedious and tiresome. Collaborating with service providers MTN, TiGO, and Fidelity Bank, ADVANCE subscribed the farmers to a facility that enables them have a mobile money virtual wallet on their personal phones. The project explained to them the benefit of the facility in enhancing their farming activities.
Outgrower business owners (OBs) who work with these farmers started to use the facility after seeing its benefits first-hand. Within a year, 3,274 smallholder farmers and 65 outgrower business owners have begun using the facility for various financial transactions. The OBs promptly pay for produce aggregated from their smallholders and inputs bought from input dealers through their mobile phones. Receiving their money on their mobile phone is saving the farmers from the temptation of spending it unwisely, which they occasionally did when they had physical cash. Some farmers even find the facility serving as “savings account.”
Just a year into its introduction to project participants, the mobile money facility has proven to be cost-effective, convenient, and time-saving. The cost charged to send money is insignificant compared to travel time and the expenses involved in transacting business in a more traditional manner. Thanks to the technology, farmers and outgrowers send and receive money on their phones without the fear of theft.
Mahamud Mohammed Muntaka of Timtooni Agro Supplies in the Northern Region is an input dealer and registered merchant who benefits from the mobile money technology. With five of his input agents also registered as merchants in five communities in Mion, Muntaka finds receiving daily sales from them via the service easy. This, according to him, has improved farmers’ access to inputs in the communities and reduced his transactional costs. “Mobile money has helped me have access to my accounts. I can easily record the value of inputs sold in the communities. With my five agents, I serve more than 3,500 smallholder farmers in Mion,” said Muntaka.
The USAID-funded ADVANCE project is implemented by ACDI/VOCA and supported by partners TechnoServe, ACDEP, and Pab Consult. The project will continue to scale up the mobile money technology to allow more value chain actors in northern Ghana to make payments spending less time and resources.