The United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) together with the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology and National Guidance have launched a digital platform which will extensively uplift farmers in rural areas.
Over the past decades, small scale farmers in Uganda have found it difficult to access better technologies in farming and also finding markets for their products has always been hard, that middlemen have always taken advantage of them.
However, UNCDF with the support of the government of Sweden has announced its partnership with four Ugandan companies to develop and scale-up digital solutions that will address the challenges smallholder farmers in Uganda face.
The solutions, which will initially be applied in the North and West Nile regions of Uganda and Kiryandongo district, are aimed at unlocking the systemic constraints in the agriculture sector with the ultimate goal of improving the productivity of smallholder farmers and consequently boosting the livelihoods of vulnerable families and communities.
While unveiling these solutions under the theme ‘Leaving no one behind in the Digital Era’ on Tuesday in Kampala,the Minister of ICT and National Guidance Judith Nabakooba welcomed the partnership and said that the use of technology to increase productivity in agriculture is one of the objectives of the digital transformation agenda of the National Development Plan III.
“The launch of these digital solutions has come at the time when the world is depending on digital technology to continue operations as we face an unprecedented global pandemic. I am glad that financial technology innovators are focusing on agriculture because digital transformation in this sector does not only benefit the farmers. It also impacts the food security of millions of Ugandans. The agricultural sector which has previously found it difficult to compete with other tech-savvy industries is now attracting young ICT talent. I am hoping that through innovations like these, the younger generation will start to see agriculture as an attractive job sector,” she said.
Chris Lukolyo, UNCDF Uganda Digital Lead , said that supporting local innovators in Uganda is one of the ways how the fund is working to foster an inclusive digital economy that leaves no one behind.
“As the world is turning to digital solutions to address day-to-day challenges, millions of people in Uganda including smallholder farmers, women, youth and refugees are at risk of being left behind,” he said.
“By supporting Ugandan entrepreneurs to build solutions that address particular needs of vulnerable populations, we foster the growth of the digital ecosystem, improve life in these communities and enable excluded groups to become more active participants in the economy.”
According to Lukolyo, in Uganda the strategy aims to leverage technology to enable at least one million people to access to, and usage of, impactful solutions in the sectors of finance, agriculture, health, education, and energy to improve their wellbeing.
The pilot study will be conducted for over five years costing over Shs 55.4bn, with these solutions farmers will be able to access credits easily. Some applications built can operate offline and when the farmer loads on data or reaches areas with the internet they will synchronise to give him/her the feedback. The platform will also provide accessibility to advisory and extension services ie when and how to grow some crops.
David Ochen a small scale farmer from Kitgum district who has used these digital solutions for over six months welcomed the idea and said that his life as a farmer has improved since he started using the solutions.
“In the past, we used not to get timely information on the input access like who are the input suppliers. We used to buy seeds or grains in the market, but this time we have the name and the location of the seed dealers. We used not to know the right markets but now, we are connected directly to the buyers,” he said.
The four companies that will receive funding from UNCDF include; Hamwe East Africa: Using their ‘My Koop’ digital solution. Hamwe East Africa will address the lack of transparency and inefficiency in the agriculture value chain by employing technology that provides forward and backward traceability of the entire value chain for both food and animals.
Nilecom together with Mezzanine and ICCO will leverage technology to automate activities of farmer groups.
They will do so by creating bulking and aggregation centres and improve access to inputs, financing, insurance, extension services and markets.
Cabral Tech Limited: Through their Kilimo call centre, Cabral Tech Limited will provide customized agriculture advisory and extension services to the hardest-to-reach smallholder farmers using mobile technology.
And Quest Digital Finance Limited (Akello Banker): who developed a solution that facilitates easy access to farm inputs, expert-extension services, agro – advisory services, tools, and equipment for farmers while providing an option for smallholder farmers to pay, share or hire farming services or equipment on credit
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