By Najib Mulema
UNCDF in conjunction with Laboremus Uganda and Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) on Thursday engaged stakeholders in the agricultural sector to discuss different avenues through which farmers’ organizations such as SACCOS and cooperatives could efficiently embrace digital technology to increase productivity in the sector.
Meeting up during the third FinTech 4AG at Design Hub Kampala, farmers, cooperatives, SACCOS and non-governmental organizations shared learning points as well as discussed challenges they have so far faced while trying to use the digital technology.
According to CGAP’s Nathan Were, the purpose of the event is to bring solution providers and solution seekers to find a middle ground and tackle some of the challenges they are confronted with.
“Like today we have heard cooperatives that are struggling to digitize operations in order to become more efficient and then we have the financial technologies that are willing to provide that solution,” he noted.
“Majority of farmers lacking smartphones is big challenge but what financial technologies have done is to design solutions like USSD to be used on their basic phones,” Were added.
On the other hand, Evelyn Namara, Manager innovate Uganda revealed that her company is aiming at ensuring transparency especially to all agro-dealers who have already embraced the change through developing basic and simple USSD software to collect and share data from the end user citing that this has greatly saved time and increased productivity among the organizations.
However, Stella Lugalambi, a co-founder of Hamwe East Africa, stressed a need to sensitize rural farmers more about the whole idea which will help to improve the efficiency of the system.
Apparently, partners are planning to develop an app that will accelerate the digitization of farmers’ cooperatives across the country in different value chains.
The app will be intended to bring farmers group on a single platform through which they can document their transactions with the view of creating well tracked records that can help them access financial services.
Bram Van Den Bosch, Laboremus Managing Director said recently they launched a project specifically aimed at digitizing and add value to the milk sector and so far it’s proving to be a success.