Speaking in Dar es Salaam yesterday after signing a memorandum of understanding Mercy Corps’ AgriFin Accelerate Program Country Director, Paul Kweheria and Halotel Tanzania Managing Director, Le Van Dai said their partnership will allow rural based farmers get access to credit and insurance products.
“AgriFin Accelerate Program is a US$ 25 million MasterCard Foundation project targeting rural farmers who have no access to baking services,” Kweheria said pointing out that apart from Tanzania, farmers in Kenya and Zambia will also benefit from the initiative.
“Our target is to reach one million farmers in these three countries in the next six years,” said the Mercy Corps Country Director. Launched last year, AgriFin Accelerate Program will help close the gap in access to financial and information services experienced by smallholder farmers, especially women and youth.
“In Tanzania, more than 78 percent of the population is engaged in or derives its livelihood from agriculture-related activities. As in many developing countries, however, the demand for agricultural financing largely remains unmet,” said Kweheria.
He further noted that with the country’s robust digital financial services market and Halotel’s countrywide network which goes into remote parts of the country, the program will play a role in the government’s industrialization drive.
“As we select which organizations to partner with, we review considerable qualities including a wider reach in rural areas where most of the farmers are based. Obviously Halotel is a perfect match when it comes to its well established network in Tanzania with its both telecoms budding mobile money services, Halopesa,” Kweheria noted.
Halotel’s Dai assured the country’s rural farmers of his firm’s commitment to deliver a wide range of products through its mobile network which covers a greater part of the country. “Halotel is present in more that 95 percent of the country including rural areas where financial services are almost unavailable,” Dai noted.
He pointed out that Halopesa will help transform rural fortunes because smallholder farmers will now use their mobile phones to save money earned from commodity trading, access credit for agro-inputs and also insure their property including crops.
“We believe that Halopesa service which is scattered all over the country will be used to empower farmers financially. Apart from enabling farmers with easy financial services, our network will also help them exchange information regarding products and markets,” the Halotel Tanzania MD stressed.