myAgro’s mission is to move smallholder farmers out of poverty. myAgro developed a mobile layaway system that is based on habits and behaviors that are already part of smallholders’ lives. It relies on scratch cards – similar to mobile phone credit. Instead of having to purchase $100 for seeds and fertilizer in a lump sum, farmers can purchase a myAgro card just as they do their daily shopping – in increments that are small and convenient.
We are supporting the pilot of myAgro’s work in Tanzania in partnership with Aga Khan Foundation. myAgro enables farmers grow up to 100% more food and double their net farming income. Further, 60% of myAgro’s clients are women! This pilot will directly serve 1000 smallholder farmers.
Joyce Naga decided to plant with myAgro when she learned about the company’s model of training customers in modern farming methods. She had never measured the distance between her maize plants before this season, nor had she ever used fertilizer. She had always assumed there were no benefits of planting with fertilizer—access to improved materials and training are limited to those given by government agricultural officers, which are often unreliable. But after attending multiple myAgro trainings and receiving extensive follow-up on her planting, she intends to plant all her future crops with fertilizer.
Joyce’s farm provides the primary income for her and her husband. Last year, her maize harvest was about 450kg per acre—about one-fourth the estimated per-acre yield of a myAgro maize field in Tanzania. Joyce plans on saving the profit from selling her increased harvest and using the money to purchase a larger myAgro package next year. She hopes to double the land area on where she plants with myAgro and says that the attention and care she receives from the company gives her faith in planting with myAgro again.
Joyce says that paying little by little for her package in three installments was what made it affordable for her and adds that paying with mobile money gave her confidence in the program. She was motivated when she felt the instant SMS vibration while making payments with her cell phone. She says that let her know as soon as she had deposited money that it was received at myAgro and counted toward her package purchase. She liked being to able to call a myAgro Village Entrepreneur who helped her navigate the touchtone interface when making her first installment. However, Joyce says she was most happy when she was able to make her final payment with the Village Entrepreneur who had stopped by to meet with her at the end of the layaway period.
Rose Kiando has three daughters. Her eldest at nineteen studies science in form four—she’s training to be a doctor. Rose makes her living as a farmer growing cashews, rice, and maize. She purchased half an acre of inputs from myAgro this season after attending a free training the company held in her village on Fall Armyworm treatment. She wanted to see for herself if planting with myAgro would increase the yield of her maize farm.
This year, she experienced a Fall Armyworm infestation that was much worse than last year’s, but she was able to reduce its damage to her crop with pesticides and training provided to her by myAgro.
In years-past, the only access to improved inputs for Rose was in the nearest town, a 30-minute drive away. The lack of training, unreliable quality of materials, and a risk of theft by agro-dealers disincentivized Rose from making the journey—myAgro’s promise to deliver seeds and fertilizer locally gave her the confidence to purchase and plant with improved inputs for the first time.
Rose paid for her myAgro package in three installments. Her agricultural income is supplemented by her husband, who teaches at a local school for the deaf. Rose likes the independence of paying for myAgro using mobile money. She says doing so is easy and convenient—Rose was able to make her payments when she was ready, without having to rely on a company employee to be available to collect cash.
With the extra income she hopes to earn from selling her excess maize harvest, Rose want to begin building a house with her husband. Now, her family of five lives for free in government housing. But Rose says having a home of her own will be the start of her development as a businesswoman. It will help her to focus on her dream of opening a salon. “I have a passion for helping women feel good,” she said.