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DIGITAL INNOVATION CHALLENGE FOR AGRICULTURE

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Background

Preamble

Agriculture is fundamental to Uganda’s economy, contributing 26% to GDP and employing about 69% of the population (Deloitte, 2016). Despite its huge potential, Uganda’s agricultural sector remains stifled by a number of challenges. It is still largely traditional, of subsistence and highly dependent on natural conditions such as rainfall and sunshine.

Uganda’s National Development plan (NDPII) identifies key binding constraints stifling development and most of them apply to the agriculture sector. Among others we mention: inadequate supply and limited access to critical production inputs, limited skilled labour, inadequate financing and financial services, low application of science, technology and innovation, and weak value chain linkages.

Today, technology presents an opportunity to transform agriculture through Commercialization, Aggregation, and Agri-business. Technology can ensure efficient operation of the value chain activities from production to processing, logistics, warehousing; increasing access to market information for better decision making.

The challenges

Challenge 1: How might we build a “Farmer Loyalty program"?

One of the solutions to the challenges in Uganda’s agriculture sector is aggregation, bulking, processing and commercialisation. There are already some agri-businesses which bring together farmers, provide them with improved seeds and farm extension services to improve their productivity and there after sell their produce to the agri-business (off-taker model).

However, the agri-business becomes comfortable to invest in the small holder farmers, if there is no certainty that they will indeed sell the produce back to the agribusiness. Indeed some of the farmers even after receiving extension services from the agri-business, end up selling their produce to other buyers. Consequently, the agribusiness ends up reducing their investment in the small holder farmers, kicking off a vicious cycle of low investment-low productivity-low income.

This is essentially a problem of loyalty of the farmers to the agri-business. Through this innovation challenge, the partners are seeking to build a “Loyalty program for farmers”

Q: How can we ensure that the farmers served by an agri-business (off-taker) remain loyal?

  • What benefits would make sense for the farmers?
  • What value can the agri-business provide to the farmers to build this affinity?
  • What other partners along the value chain can bring value to the loyalty program?
  • How could these be implemented?

 

Challenge 2: How might we improve the management of agriculture value chains?

Managing large agriculture value chains with various actors can be challenging. The current manual systems of managing the flow of information and funds, monitoring and tracing resources is not only inefficient but also prone to a lot of errors and manipulations. Through this innovation challenge, the partners are seeking to build a “Value chain management solution” using the case study of the Coffee value chain.

Q: How can digital help in improving the following value chain processes and activities?

  • Farmer profiling,
  • Farm monitoring
  • Input ordering
  • Bulking produce from farmers
  • Disseminating market pricing information
  • Extension services especially two way communication with farmers
  • Tracking origin of coffee from production to consumer
  • Information capture and sharing across the value chain.

 

Challenge 3: How might we enable farmers to access and share farm extension workers, tools and equipment?

Low productivity among smallholder farmers is majorly caused by poor farming practices due to lack of knowledge (no extension services) and lack of modern farming tools (mechanisation or other tools).

Access to these services and tools is both an issue availability and efficient allocation. Most smallholder farmers cannot afford to acquire some of the modern tools of production. It is also not economical for them fully own the tools since they have small farms.

For extension services, it becomes expensive for a smallholder farmer to pay for a full day of an extension worker, when in actually they only need 2 hours of extension services at most. However, because there is no pooling and aggregation of the need in a given area, each farmer has to pay a full day equivalent of services.

Through this innovation challenge, the partners are seeking to build a digital solution that can allow farmers to access, order for and share farm extension workers, tools and equipment.

Q: How can farmers identify and access quick farm extension services and machinery that are locally available in their areas?

Some of the functionalities of this solution could include but are not limited to;

  • Allow farmers to identify available equipment and agricultural services within their area
  • Allow equipment owners and commercial service providers to offer their equipment and services
  • Allow farmers to hire and pay for equipment and agricultural services
  • Guarantee payments until the service is provided
  • Allow the verification of users and service providers
  • Provide a feedback service for both farmers and service providers to allow for the development of a trusted online community
  • Allow for matching search requests with actual services available

 

Participate

UNCDF, in partnership with the Innovation Village, Mukwano (AK Oils and Fats Ltd), National Union of Coffee Agribusinesses and Farm Enterprises (NUCAFE), Welthungerhilfe and MTN Uganda are seeking for innovators with a passion for developing sustainable digital solutions that will transform agriculture and improve farmer livelihoods in Uganda.

We are bringing together reputable private sector players in the agricultural sector with Uganda’s startups and innovators, to solve specific challenges in the sector.

How to participate?

Please submit your application and upload your presentation slides before 5pm on 21st January 2019 (max 10 slides) to this link

Why participate?

  • The final 10 startups that emerge from the bootcamp will:
    • Will undergo “UNCDF’s accelerator program” featuring international mentors to prepare the teams to become investment ready
    • Stand the chance to receive the “MTN startup fund” – subject to fulfilling the fund criteria
     
  • The final 3 teams that emerge from the accelerator program will:
    • Pilot and scale their solutions with prominent organisations
    • Receive seed funding of up to UGX 50 Million to support them in piloting their solutions
    • Receive international visibility including connection to potential financers.

Judging criteria

  • How well does the solution respond to the need and defined challenge
  • Solution shows a good understanding of market and customer it is targeting
  • Potential impact of the solution on the agriculture sector at scale

The solution should be practical and easily implementable thereby positively impacting the lives farmers

  • The solution: Participating team should share a visual representation or mock up designs of their proposed solution
  • The startup: The startups should be a registered business in operation for at least 1 year. This team should consist of at least 4 members with various skill sets, demonstrate added value and cohesiveness.
  • Business model: The startup should be have a good idea of the business model envisaged for the solution – with a good idea of the key resources needed to grow the solution, and how they intend to monetise it.
  • Ingenuity of the solution or improvement of existing technology-based process
  • Solution uniqueness

Partners

UNCDF

UNCDF is the UN’s capital investment agency for the world’s 48 least developed countries (LDCs). With its capital mandate and instruments, UNCDF offers “last mile” finance models that unlock public and private resources, especially at the domestic level, to reduce poverty and support local economic development. This last mile is where available resources for development are scarcest; where market failures are most pronounced; and where benefits from national growth tend to leave people excluded.

Welthungerhilfe

Welthungerhilfe (WHH) is a Germany NGO founded in 1962 under the umbrella of the UN Food and Agriculture organization (FAO). Since its inception, WHH has implemented over 7,733 overseas projects in 41 countries. Welthungerhilfe started operations in Uganda in 1980 making financial contributions and supporting the building of capacities of local partners. Welthungerhilfe has projects focusing on agricultural development in the districts of Yumbe, Arua and Moroto. In these regions, WHH deals with local communities, refugees and host communities.

Mukwano

Mukwano Group of Companies is one of the leading conglomerates in Eastern and Central Africa. The Mukwano group is actively involved in large scale commercial agriculture and oil seed development projects - working with over 500,000 farmers across Uganda.

NUCAFE

NUCAFE is an umbrella national coffee farmers’ organization with over 200 farmer cooperatives / associations and more than 1.2 million individual farmers in the 5 coffee growing regions in Uganda. These individual farmers are grouped in farmer groups which come together under associations (203) that are made up of hubs (20) which in turn report to the NUCAFE head office.

MTN

MTN is a leading telecom and mobile money provider in Uganda. MTN recently launched its “mobile money open API” giving startups in Uganda easier access to the much needed payments infrastructure. MTN also announced a startup fund of UGX 1 billion, further confirming its commitment to promoting the startup ecosystem in Uganda.

The Innovation Village

We are the heart of an interconnected network of entrepreneurs, academia, private sector, government, investors, believers and doers deepening the application of technology in powering social economic prosperity. Every day we look for ways to deliver impactful solutions for grand challenges by leveraging innovation, entrepreneurship and technology.

The Innovation Village’s Challenge Driven Accelerator (CDA) brings together these players to build technology driven solutions to address some of Uganda’s pressing socio-economic challenges. Innovate 4 Agriculture (I4A) is a collaborative initiative where synergies of our partners can be leveraged to implement sustainable solutions to key issues across the agricultural value chain.

CONTACT US

The Innovation Village
Ntinda Complex (opp. St Luke’s Church)
3rd Floor, Block B and C
P.O. Box 25760
Kampala, Uganda
Email: info@innovationvillage.co.ug
Phone: +256 393 241 297