What value is Agri-Tech adding to the Ugandan economy.

agri-tech panelist swarm18
Photo credit: Martin Tumusiime
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It is very common to hear that the largest percentage of Uganda’s economy depends on Agriculture. Agri-Tech in Uganda being a developing sector in the market has enabled the growth of Uganda’s Agriculture. Understanding the hierarchy from the developers to the low-level users (farmers), there is a great need for Agri-Tech startups to understand how to easily involve the farmers by making these technologies easy to use. This was talked about in an interview where Agri-tech startups were advised to simplify their technologies for famers to use.

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This and more was addressed during the Swarm Summit 2018 organized by Hive Colab. The growth of technology around Uganda and the need to solve problems associated in fields of Agriculture has sparked the growth of Agri-Tech, for example ways of getting rid of the famous pest “Fall Army Worm” before spreading was solved with an application. This was a major step in the Agric-Tech sector.

More solutions like WeFarm, the World’s largest Farmer-To-Farmer network with over one million farmers that has enabled them share solutions in their language without internet are needed, but the only way to structure and maintain these solutions is through involving the primary users.

This session which was conducted by Isabel Odida from RainTree Farms.

What value is Agri-Tech adding to the economy of Uganda?

EazyAgric, a farming tool that enables commercial and small scale farmers boosts of registering 62000 farmers and employing 10000 youths who act as agents in the different districts where the farmers reside. The application helps connect farmers to the right suppliers and buyers, view weather forecasts, map their land for better decision making, get advice from agents and so much more.

Famunera’s implementation strategy targets farmer’s cooperatives and associations through which farmers, manufacturers, suppliers and buyers are registered, linked together so that business is conducted. In this way, a large number of sellers and buyers are connected and business flourishes.

The gradual growth of the Agri-Tech sector?

The existence of many computer related courses and agriculture courses has created an interaction between the two fields. The knowledge of agriculture, fused with a number of problems has created a need to solve them with existing technology.

The internet being a space of information, Uganda has been exposed to ideas of Agri-Tech from other countries which have been localized and implemented therefore growing the industry.

Cross country Agri-Tech innovations like WeFarm have fostered knowledge sharing and cross border trade for farmers between Uganda and Kenya.

Understanding and incorporating new technologies and programming languages that ease interaction with AgriTech startup applications have enabled building of interactive and easy to use applications for the farmers, who are the primary users.

With over 19 million internet users in Uganda, the Agri-Tech sector in Uganda has enough potential to develop. Also out of the 40 million Ugandans, 19.3 million households are Agricultural, which leaves a room for Agri-tech startups to tap into these markets.

Are the available resources enough?

Access to internet in Uganda is expensive, and the remote places from the Capital City have slow internet – which is one of the major challenges. Some technologies (the applications) tend to be difficult to use. One of the solutions to counter this issue is getting agents to assist the farmers incase of application errors. These agents stay within the villages and they are easily accessible.

In some farmer groups, a member is taught all the necessary details about the application and he/she assists the whole group. In this way, more farmers can get to learn about the application with time.

Even with a lot of information on the internet, many farmers are not well vast with these technologies and how to use them.

The easiest way this has been solved is getting all the necessary content that benefits the farmers, package it very well in a language that the local people can understand and deliver it to farmers in a way that is easy to understand.

What foundations should the Agri-Tech sector of Uganda lean on?

A strong foundation for tech-startups is needed to create an atmosphere to enable flourishing of the Agri-Tech sector of Uganda. Here are some of the key things which must be put into consideration.

  1. The Financial sector

Creating incentives to enable farmers access loans and expand their businesses.

The major limitation to this is, farmers don’t have the documentation of transactions which are required during accessing loans.

2. The government

Coming up with laws and policies to support the growth of Agri-Tech startups. This involves government ministries like Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) and Ministry of Agriculture to provide up-to-date information to enable tech-startups in the Agriculture sector flourish.

3. Techprenuer support

Providing resources to teach and assist budding Agri-Tech startups to venture into Tech entrepreneurship.

4. Development partners

Providing finances to support tech startups from by investors.

5. Other African tech-startups

Getting ideas from other African tech-startups and localizing them for the Ugandan market.

About Swarm Summit

Swarm is a startup summit where tech enthusiasts, techprenuers, developers, startup owners, policy makers and investors gather to interact about the technology ecosystem of Uganda, Africa and the globe.

From incubation stage to operation, many startups crave for tenacity to be effective, serve the Ugandan community and most of all have a pool of resources to use in the process.

The target of the Swam Summit is to gather involved parties in the technology ecosystem, from creators, users of these technologies to policy makers and find ways to create a rapport so as to devise ways of building a unified supportive society of technologists.

Panelists from leading technology startups gather to share knowledge on how to boost the industry and involve more parties for dynamic growth.

Conclusion

To keep the Agri-Tech sector of Uganda sustainable, the core users who are the farmers must be involved. Simplifying how the farmers views the technologies, create infographics that will enable them relate with and easily associate with the product.