Agri Business

Mastercard to open up opportunities for small farmers in the South

Vishwanath Kulkarni Bengaluru | Updated on October 28, 2020

Mastercard is eyeing the Indian farm sector to deploy its technology platform – Mastercard Farmer Network (MFN), which it claims would help farmers connect directly with buyers, input suppliers and financial institutions such as banks and insurance companies.

MFN will be rolled out in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu in a few months, said RB Santosh Kumar, Vice-President, Government Engagement, South Asia, Mastercard.

Kumar said the company is bringing its technology solution to India after its success among the farming community in Africa, mainly Tanzania and Uganda, where about 4.75 lakh farmers are using MFN to get better realisations and access to inputs and advisories.

The MFN platform — a common digital infrastructure — connects farmers with buyers, inputs supplier, banks and financial institutions and Farmer Producer Organisations. The platform digitises agri marketplace, payments, workflows and provides farmers an easy and secure way to buy, sell and receive payments for their produce.

Pilot in AP

Mastercard has been running a pilot of MFN in Andhra Pradesh for the past two years in collaboration with the State Horticulture Department and three FPOs. About 24,000 farmers have been using the MFN platform in Andhra Pradesh.

During the recent Covid lockdown, AP farmers using MFN were able to sell their produce and fetch higher realisations of 25 per cent for mangoes and 50 per cent for turmeric, Kumar said.

Mastercard will roll out the MFN with the help of an implementation partner, which the company is in the process of finalising for the three States. “We start with three States in South and then we move to Central India and Northern India,” Kumar said. MFN aims to enrol about 3 lakh farmers over two years in phases.

“We plan to work with various stakeholders such as fintech and agritech start-ups, bankers and financial institutions to reach out to a maximum number of farmers,” Kumar said adding that new age banks with a rural focus and three input companies have shown interest in the concept.

Revenue model

The digital agents of the implementation partner will onboard the farmers, train them to transact on the MFN platform. Farmers can not only sell their produce to buyers through the platform, but also purchase inputs and avail financial services from banks and insurance companies. Also, the value-added services such as crop advisory, logistics and mechanisation extensions would be offered through the MFN platform, Kumar added.

MFN is being customised for the Indian conditions at Mastercard’s technology lab in Pune, which has been running the MFN solution globally. Kumar said the focus of MFN was not on revenue, but to help improve farmers’ realisations. “The ecosystem will have a revenue model, which is yet to be finalised,” he added.

Published on October 28, 2020

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