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Liberia, a small country of 4 million inhabitants located in West Africa, is on the verge of undergoing one of the most transformational moments in its agricultural history.
With 10% of its adult population having subscribed to mobile money accounts, Liberia can boast of soon being able to double this figure thanks to the Liberian Agriculture Transformation Agenda (LATA), launched by the Government of Liberia with the support of the African Development Bank.
The program leverages on a technology provided by Cellulant Nigeria Ltd., probably the most innovative digital platform supplier in agri-business in Africa. It connects recipients of inputs (fertilizers and seeds) to financial services providers via mobile wallets. This new technology maps existing farms and tags them to their owners in a unique database. Its econometric model is able to project the amount of input support needed from the collected information (land size, crop type, demand).
Through the ongoing Smallholder Agricultural Productivity Enhancement and Commercialization (SAPEC) Project, it is expected that 150,000 Liberian farmers will be enumerated before the 2016 planting season is over. From a simple wallet in their home village, farmers will be able to directly receive input support for fertilizers, relevant data and alerts, be visible and simply exist in the financial system.
In a parallel activity, the Project will promote SME financing by allowing agro-dealers to receive funding from commercial banks through a risk-sharing agreement with the Government. Interest rates on lending are expected to drop several points therefore boosting microcredit.
This significant step is a gateway to wider financial services: premium insurance, microcredit and savings. The African Development Bank believes in a vertical approach to financial inclusion rather than the provision of massive accounts that fall dormant due to lack of innovative and adapted services.