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MasterCard Join Hands with LEAF to Expand Financial Inclusion, Double Farmers' Income

Chintu Das
Chintu Das
Master Card

MasterCard announced a partnership with Lawrencedale Agro Processing India (LEAF), India's foremost agriculture value chain facilitator, to create LEAF Farmer Network, which will increase financial access and inclusion for more than one million farmers in India (LFN). 

This platform will improve the lives of Indian farmers by combining technology with human interaction to address the country's rural ecosystem's various transparency concerns. 

LFN will give farmers in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu with harvest data digitalisation, improved market access, crop knowledge, and, most significantly, a high degree of transparency by connecting directly with purchasers. This will help farmers build resilience while also supporting the government's objective of a "Atmanirbhar Bharat." 

Small - scale farmers, who make up more than 80% of India's agricultural industry, are sometimes subjected to extreme opacity and are eternally reliant on intermediaries. Farmers have hurdles at every stage, whether it's procuring excellent farmed goods, maximising the value of their output, or using formal credit channels for payments. 

"The stakeholders in the agricultural ecosystem are impeded by a lack of clear access to actionable data. This problem is solved by adding a virtuous loop between farmers and markets, allowing for greater information access. We are happy to join with MasterCard to carry on our years of effort in bringing about a positive shift in the life of disadvantaged farmers," Palat Vijayaraghavan, Founder & CEO of LEAF, stated. 

LFN will provide seamless access to high-quality food at scale, enable transparent pricing negotiation, and manage end-to-end logistics with quality control. Farmers handle the entire process with the help of LFN representatives. 

"At the heart of LFN is the digitisation of the product purchasing process. Through a specialised on-the-ground farmer advisory and change management staff, it is a high-touch methodology. It's made possible by MasterCard’s rural-relevant, secure phone-driven, and internet-agnostic technology," said LEAF's Vijayaraghavan. 

By connecting buyers, farming inputs, suppliers, agtechs, and banks with FPOs/farmers, LFN will digitise marketplaces, payments, workflows, and farmer transaction histories, assisting in the creation of a commercially sustainable ecosystem that includes all relevant agriculture value chain players with equitable commercial exchange mechanisms. This effort will also help farmers by providing thorough training and capacity building throughout the harvesting process, including post-harvest waste management. 

“MasterCardhas a long history of linking individuals and small companies to the digital economy and assisting them in realising their full potential. We accomplish this by using all of the company's resources i.e. people, data, technology, and philanthropy to develop solutions for long-term, inclusive development. Another move in this approach is the LEAF Farmer Network. It will use digital technologies to bring key players from throughout the agri-value chain together to guarantee that farmers have direct access to the information, skills, and markets that they presently lack. MasterCard is pleased that this program, in collaboration with LEAF, will have a concrete beneficial impact on farmers' earnings, contributing to the Government of India's objective of doubling farmers' income in the next two years," said Nikhil Sahni, Division President, South Asia, MasterCard. 

Banks are failing to efficiently serve the rural environment since most earnings are received in cash, resulting in a cash-based economy, low account balances, and high bank maintenance costs. Furthermore, most farmers lack official credit histories, making it difficult for them to get formal financial services. Providing farmers with access to digital payments via LFN will encourage them to use their accounts. Instead of travelling to their bank branches or business agents in neighbouring towns, farmers will be paid through their bank accounts or cards tailored for offline rural use, giving liquidity for the digital money. 

Farmers will be able to save more money as a result of this, and will be enticed away from unauthorised money lenders. Farmers are also more likely to utilise official payment channels as a result of financial inclusion, which improves their credit score and makes them eligible for loans from financial institutions. 

Mastercard's commitment to financial inclusion and inclusive growth has never been greater throughout the world. Since the farmer network was established two years ago in India, we have made great progress toward this aim, and we are happy to see 110,000 farmers and 180 FPOs benefiting now. We are convinced that by partnering with LEAF, we will be able to further reduce the complexity and obstacles encountered by small and marginal farms. Mastercard's goal is to help 10 million farmers adopt digital technology and become more integrated into the formal economy. The partnership will allow 360-degree involvement in agricultural commerce and promote transparency while guaranteeing that the value is kept within the ecosystem, said Ricardo Pareja, SVP, Sales and Market Development, H&D, Mastercard. 

The introduction of LFN is a follow-up to Mastercard Farm Pass, a trial initiative that began in Andhra Pradesh in 2018. Farm Pass is a key component of Community Pass, a shared, interoperable digital infrastructure for rural residents that makes crucial services more accessible and reduces costs. Farm Pass now assists 600,000 farmers in India and East Africa, helping many of them increase their revenues by 25 to 50 percent. 

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