The Togolese Government, which has been adopting digital technology to boost agricultural production, has announced the launch of interest-free loans to farmers in Togo.
Under the “YOLIM” digital interest-free loans programme, the Togolese Government, in partnership with banks and telecoms operators TogoCel and Moov Togo, is offering credit to small-holder farmers to purchase farming inputs such as seed, fertilisers, pesticides and inoculum, and to rent modern farm machinery such as tractors and discs through the TROTRO Tractor platform.
The YOLIM agricultural financing programme is complemented by the partnership between the Togolese Government and VAYA TROTRO that will allow Togolese farmers to hire farm equipment using a mobile phone application.
VAYA Technology Limited a Mauritius based company partnered with TROTRO Tractor Limited from Ghana to develop a “shared economy platform” for mechanisation. Through VAYA TROTRO platform, farmers will have access to services that include ploughing, discing, ripping, planting, boom-spraying, fertiliser spreading, trailer work and mechanized harvesting using their mobile phones.
The “YOLIM” programme means rains and sowing season in the local language) is set to enhance farmers’ digital and financial inclusion by granting them instant access to credit remotely, from a simple mobile phone using USSD technology. The loan, worth 96 000 CFA Francs (≈146 Euros), will be paid directly into the farmer’s mobile wallet in the form of an electronic voucher. The farmer, using the USSD code *824#, can immediately use YOLIM to purchase fertiliser, seeds, pesticides, and other inputs from partner stores.
The partnership between the Government of Togo and Trotro Tractor, known as VAYA Trotro in Togo, will give YOLIM beneficiaries the convenience to simply dial the USSD code *824# and use their YOLIM credit to rent tractors on a “pay-as-you-go” basis. So far, 57 483 farmers have already registered for the YOLIM programme to access loans amounting to 5.5 billion CFA Francs (≈8.4M Euros).
In a country where nearly 60% of the working population are farmers, the YOLIM farm loans programme and the Togolese Government’s public-private partnership (PPP) with VAYA TROTRO to boost agriculture through the use of convenient digital mobile technologies will likely attract interest across the continent.
Togo’s President Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé has pledged to transform the agricultural sector by making it the second pillar of the country’s 2018-2022 National Development Plan.
“Since 2016, the Ministry of Digital Economy has supported the Ministry of Agriculture in various projects by employing digital tools aimed at helping farmers to improve their productivity and quality of produce for better yields and higher incomes.
By providing farmers with digital credit, the YOLIM programme is a decisive step in the integration of small-holder farmers into the national agricultural value chain. Our partnership with VAYA TROTRO embraces our strategy to introduce digital transformation across the agriculture value chain, increase equipment utilisation and provide transparency on the usage of equipment,” said Cina Lawson, the Minister of Posts, Digital Economy and Technological Innovation.
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