The iFarmer, a full-stack agritech company in partnership with UCB (United Commercial Bank PLC), began a project last November to offer financial support to maize farmers using contract farming methods.
Under the project, farmers opened bank accounts at UCB for BDT 10 and received financial facilities along with other agriculture-related support provided by iFarmer. Now, after a successful journey of maize harvesting and sales, the farmers have repaid the loan in full amount, said a press release.
Under the collaboration between iFarmer and UCB, maize farmers were financed in the Char areas of Bogura, Sirajganj, and Gaibandha. They also received high-quality agricultural inputs, weather updates, and advisory services from iFarmer. Upon receiving the financing, farmers began working on the farms as iFarmer's field force routinely monitored the farmers to ensure transparency throughout the whole project.
Amid challenges, farmers were able to produce a large quantity of maize. iFarmer purchased all the maize from the farmers through their supply chain and ensured the repayment. 535 farmers were given funding through the project totaling around BDT 20,759,000. iFarmer also facilitated funds to more farmers via retail financing. Besides, an internal survey by iFarmer highlights that farmers who previously availed financial services from other institutions last year saved about 50-67% of their cost of capital by availing low-cost finance under the guidance of iFarmer in 2023 through this project. The farmers generated 4033.12 metric tons of maize together, reads the release.
Regarding the initiative, Fahad Ifaz, co-founder and CEO of iFarmer said, "We have taken the initial steps for better financial inclusion of the farmers and the banks have played an important role. In the future we will continue to scale our efforts to reach more farmers"
ATM Tahmiduzzaman, Deputy Managing Director of UCB, said, "Our goal was to make financial services easily accessible to farmers. iFarmer played a pivotal role in driving the success of this project."
Mohammed Golam Mostofa, a farmer hailing from the char area of Kazipur in Sirajganj, said about this initiative, "I was struggling with farming owing to financial constraints. Later, I came to know about iFarmer's low-cost finance. I took financial support of BDT 50,000 from this project to do maize farming and cultivated 270 decimals of land. I successfully produced 14,400 kgs of maize this year. The overall support from iFarmer has not only helped me earn a good profit, but I could also pay back the loan on time."
It is mentionable that this was the first time the farmers of the Char areas came under financial inclusion via the project. The project will be revolving every year with plans from iFarmer's end to scale up the Char belt significantly, said the media release.