Agriculture is the backbone of most African economies, employing 65% of the continent’s workforce. Despite this, the farmers still face several challenges, from market manipulation to lack of access to credit facilities. Shamba Records is using blockchain technology and artificial intelligence to transform this industry. In an interview with CoinGeek, the founder and CEO George Maina revealed how the startup is changing lives for thousands of farmers.
Shamba Records leverages blockchain and AI to “collect farmer’s production data, link them to the market, process their payments and link the small-scale farmers to credit services,” Maina told CoinGeek.
The Kenyan startup caters to over 6,000 small-scale farmers in rural areas, enabling them to leverage technology to increase their income. As Maina revealed, Shamba Records has been able to raise their income by at least 40%.
Most of the farmers are members of cooperatives and local unions which give them amplified bargaining power and access to credit. However, many of them are corrupt. In many cases, ‘ghost farmers’ who don’t make any contribution, end up getting paid every harvest season.
“To solve this challenge, we decided to integrate blockchain so as to peg each farmer’s ID to a blockchain ID. We then created a whole new blockchain registry that can track genuine farmers and their land, crops and livestock.”
For most farmers, access to credit facilities is one of the biggest challenges. Once they harvest their produce, most of them sell it for cash. This makes it difficult to have any record to prove their creditworthiness. As a result, most of them lack credit facilities which are crucial in expanding their operations.
Shamba Records solves this for the farmers. By recording their transactions on the blockchain, it allows the farmers to access them and present them to any credit facility. The startup has partnered with several credit facilities which it connects the farmers with. In the future, it plans on lending to the farmers from its own balance sheet, making it a one-stop shop for all the farmers’ needs, Maina revealed.
Despite being a relatively new technology, blockchain has been widely embraced in Kenya, Maina told CoinGeek. The East African country has the highest internet and smartphone penetration in Africa. As a result, the country tends to be a fertile ground for new technology. As CoinGeek recently reported, Kenya saw a 199% rise in P2P digital currency trading volume in Q2 this year, the second-highest in Africa after Ghana.
The Kenyan government has also been working towards integrating blockchain technology into the economy. The ICT Ministry is currently running a blockchain taskforce to find the best way to adopt the technology in the country.
To cater to even the least tech-savvy farmers, Shamba Records uses a combination of platforms, both online and offline, from USSD and bulk SMS to mobile and web portals.
Shamba Records has set its sights on international expansion in the near future, both within Africa and beyond. Maina stated:
“We have established partnerships that will see us launch our product in Uganda and Ghana in the next one year or so. More to this, we have a lot more interested parties outside Africa, especially the Asian market who are really keen with our solution. Apart from that we’re always on a continuous journey of improving our platform both technologically and value wise to the customers.”
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