Agri-Fin Mobile made a groundbreaking move in December, 2012 when they launched LISA--a mobile platform that empowers local smallholder farmers to receive agricultural tips and submit their problems to experts. A team of 30 experts from Indonesia’s Ministry of Agriculture and Bogor Agricultural University joined forces to assist the launch of this new mobile agricultural platform.
LISA was first available to farmers from Kerawane district. Three officers from the Ministry of Agriculture were invited to meet with farmer representatives and introduced the new mobile application to them. During the experimental period, these farmers were able to receive daily tips about weather condition and other agricultural information. In addition, they could submit their own questions through LISA and the team of experts would answer them directly.
The experimental process ended in May, 2013 and Mercy Corps immediately proposed a new MoU to the Ministry of Agriculture. The new MoU hopes to expand LISA to other regions in Indonesia. In the new proposal, Ministry of Agriculture will expect to recruit 20,000 extended workers. Mercy Corps also plans to integrate LISA and two other applications used by the Ministry of Agriculture into one package. However, the Ministry of Agriculture is still pending the integration as it involves two other applications under them. Ideally, Mercy Corps wants to merge information from the other two applications with LISA and disseminate it to farmers through mobile technology.
Despite challenges, the Indonesian team never stops breaking new grounds. Mercy Corps has started working on mobile payments for the farmers. They plan to introduce the new mobile payment through Andara Link, a new mobile application owned by Bank Andara. This new application will allow farmers to pay their electricity and phone bills through mobile phones.
In addition, Mercy Corps will work with Farmers Cooperatives to equip them with Andara Link printers and tablets. Farmers can make payments through their cooperatieves and the printer will allow the officers of the cooperatives to print out the receipt and give it to farmers immediately. The initiative is expected to start in July, 2013.
“We will require Cooperatives to make at least 500 transaction per month,” said Ikhwan. “Mercy Corps will also help them to promote the new initiative and we will support them with promotional funds.”
In the long run, the Indonesian team also plans to form a business model that can bring buyers and input suppliers to work with farmers.
“Currently, we are also involved with the World Economic Forums’ PISAgro’s rice working group and helping them to implement mobile payment, agricultural value chain payment and agriculture financing,” said Ikhwan.