HARARE – Econet Wireless Zimbabwe (EWZ)’s EcoFarmer has partnered Mercy Corps and the Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU) to help achieve rural food security and boost productivity by raising mobile literacy among rural women farmers through practical training and on-the-ground knowledge transfer.
The training, which has so far been carried out in Manicaland and Mashonaland Central, is designed to empower rural farmers to make full use of their mobile phones to access critical services to raise productivity, according to senior Econet executive Jimmy Shindi.
“The trainings have been going on since November 2017 and are basically meant to educate farmers on how to make the most out of their mobile phones, beyond just making and receiving calls and sending peer-to-peer text messages,” said Shindi, who is in charge of Strategy and Innovation at EWZ.
“They are intended to build capacity to empower the rural farmers to access practical and timely information on relevant farming services such as mobile insurance services, as well as educating them on the dozens of use cases available to them on our mobile money service EcoCash” said the business executive.
Econet Wireless, the leading mobile and financial technology (FinTech) company in Zimbabwe, offers, through its FinTech and non-telecomm business units, several products and services — among then the popular EcoCash mobile money service, the mobile micro insurance service EcoSure, and EcoFarmer, which offers a wide range of mobile farming services.
The tripartite farmers training programme is being carried out under Mercy Corps’ Agri-Fin Mobile Programme.
Mercy Corps is a global non-profit organisation that seeks to empower people by helping build secure, productive and just communities through transformative programmes to reduce dependence on external aid and lower barriers to credit access.
A Mercy Corps Country Programme spokesperson, Collen Shoko, said the Agri-Fin Mobile Programme (funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation — SDC) works with local partners to build sustainable business models that seek to benefit local communities and associated businesses.
“The programme, which we are running with EcoFarmer and the Zimbabwe Farmer’s Union, offers farm, crop management and financial services in affordable ‘bundles’ on mobile platforms that can be scaled to promote mass commercial uptake,” the Mercy Corps’ spokesperson said.
He added that the programme targeted partners with existing financial, mobile network and agricultural technical service capabilities, along with a demonstrated interest in sustainably developing them.
Commenting on the training, ZFU provincial manager Daniel Mungazi confirmed the benefit to farmers of the training programme, saying once the farmers tried out new uses of their mobile phones, they acquired a practical understanding of the added benefits they could derive from their use.