EcoFarmer is not a new product. It’s been around for close to 5 years but today EcoCash introduced some new and interesting services that will no doubt push EcoFarmer into the mainstream of agricultural services.

So what’s new?

Well, EcoFarmer is introducing a membership scheme they are calling EcoFarmer Club and through this service farmers get access to a number of benefits if they part with a monthly subscription fee of $1. All of the services that come with EcoFarmer Club subscriptions will be available via USSD which means as long as a farmer has a mobile phone, an Econet SIM and an EcoCash account they can join. No need to worry about apps and the storage or data they consume.

Farming tips

Of course the farming tips are not entirely new but they will be part of the EcoFarmer Club subscription. Farmers can get tips for the following crops and livestock:

  • Maize
  • Groundnuts
  • Sorghum
  • Tomatoes
  • Tobacco
  • Cattle
  • Chickens
  • Goats

Farmers will get this tips through tip bundles that ensure you get a tip for any 3 of the above crops/livestock. At the time of writing, we are not sure if these tips bundle will come at an extra cost but I believe that is not the case. We will reach out to Econet and clarify.

Market Prices

Farmers will now have access to market prices for 37 commodities from over 30 municipal markets across Zimbabwe.  This will mean that farners who are EcoFarmer Club Members will no longer fall victim to middlemen who buy their produce at inaccurate price points and then resell and make a profit.

Market Alerts

These alerts will allow farmers to see what buyers are looking for. These are buyers within your ward or district, so there should be no headaches in relation to transportation of the goods once they are available for buyers.

Oh and when I speak of buyers, I’m not talking about average joe’s or regular citizens but businesses that buy and resell. So far Econet has listed the following companies as buyers:

  • Maungwe Honey
  • Peak Trading
  • Bobster Investments
  • Montana Carswell Meats
  • PHI Commodities

Obviously more buyers will be added as time goes on but for now there’s the list of buyers who farmers can sell to.

Trading Platform

EcoFarmers trading platform actually allows EcoFarmer Club Members to sell their crops to buyers using their phone. Farmers will be able to register their commodities, create offers, and to accept or reject bids all on their device. Of course there will be grading standards that farmers have to meet and Econet is partnering with a number of buyers who will inform farmers what these standards are.

EcoFarmer Club-Weather Information

Weather forecasts will also be accessible if you’re a club member and these forecasts will help farmers who are planning on what to plant and when to plant it.

EcoFarmer Club Card

Club members will also get a Club Card that will make them eligible for exclusive discounts of upto 10% at the following channel partners:

  • Agriseeds
  • FarmShop
  • Steward Health
  • Seedridge
  • windmill
  • agricura
  • TanakaPower
  • Graniteside Electrical & Hardware
  • Arda Seeds

One would expect that channel partners will also be added down the line but most of the partners who have signed up have shops in more than one province so that’s not a problem at launch.

Other telcos need to pull up their socks

Telecel and NetOne will no doubt be watching as Econet launches another service that is probably going to take off and become the next big thing. It seems the other two operators are hell bent on offering no competition at all to Econet and would rather focus all their energy on board room squabbles. Econet has gone into the insurance industry(EcoSure), the media industry (Kwese), IoT (Cumii) and agriculture(EcoFarmer) and other industries.

The only reason why Telecel and NetOne have remained relevant is because “they have good promotions.” To hell with promotions, give us products instead and because these are government institutions we have a right  to make demands from both telcos.

Kudos to Econet for the EcoFarmer Club service, another product that may revolutionise the way farmers in our country approach their work. Farmers interested in joining the EcoFarmer Club can do so by dialling *144# and selecting the second option on the menu.