Farmers need access to finance to invest in their farms, boost yields and income, and protect their growing business. However, when it comes to agriculture, financial institutions are often far from the customers they serve. And the more remote the farmer, the more remote their chances of getting the loans and insurance policies they need.
Farmers in developing countries may also lack collateral for loans and have a limited financial history or credit score to speak of. Without such information, lenders and insurers can overestimate the risk and undervalue the potential of a farmer’s business.
Basically, the system seems to have set many farmers up to fail—but emerging technologies are working to reverse this trend in favour of farmers.
GRID, a product offered by ag-tech company Origin Digital, allows farmers and financial institutions to share up-to-date information, better understand risk, and build strong partnerships to put these remote farmers on the financial map. GRID provides crop performance monitoring, cropped areas measurements and plant-established maps, hyper-local weather data, soil-mapping and soil health monitoring, fertilizer recommendations to increase growth, and even crop growth models for a yield potential figure before harvest.
With the aid of objective satellite imagery, farmers can better justify their farm output potential and work with banks and insurers to arrive at the fairest financial terms. When properly financed, farmers can invest in vital inputs like seeds and fertilizers to boost productivity and profitability. And it’s a win-win game. Financial institutions can grow profitably in emerging economies by being more inclusive and increasing access to finance. GRID allows financial institutions to further mitigate risks by sharing agronomic knowledge that some small-scale farmers may lack. Insurance companies, for instance, would have data to justify financial support to farmers for crop protection in advance of anticipated pest outbreaks, reducing overall damage and losses.
With more information available from services like GRID, financial institutions can increase their reach and boost investment, farmers can improve yields and output, and communities and economies can benefit from more productive and self-sufficient food systems.