KAMPALA – Centenary Group’s Centenary Technology Services alias Cente-Tech together with the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) have come up in a strategic partnership to improve farmers’ livelihoods by digitalizing agribusinesses through a single digital agri-based marketplace.
Over the next two years, the two organizations will implement a single platform named the ‘Farmer Hub’ as a public good designed to provide access to digital services for farmers in their day-to-day lives.
The event held at Serena Hotel Kampala on Wednesday was officiated by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of ICT and National Guidance, Dr Aminah Zawedde, who congratulated the two upon the landmark initiative, committing Government support in the private sector led technology intervention.
“Digital technologies have the capability to enable farmers to understand the interdependence of the factors that affect their farm productivity. They play a key role in optimizing the use of seeds, pesticides and animal management, thus contributing to a more efficient use of resources.”
She says that the agriculture sector employs over 70% of the country’s population, contributing about 25% of the National GDP, the reason why it should be boosted.
Dr Zawedde noted that the National Development Plan 3 indicates that ‘Agro-industrialization will be pursued to transform the subsistence agriculture sector to a commercial and competitive sector, which can only be possible with the use of technology.
“As the global debate on food security goes on, it’s evident that, digitization seems to be an unrivalled solution to all the emerging questions, today the Farmer’s Hub is a testimony to how digitization can be done the right way.”
She said that her ministry has been at the fore-front of fighting youth unemployment through innovation and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO).
According to her, 70% who are involved in Agriculture, half of them are under 40years old, largely youth – a case for the implementation of Farmer’s Hub.
The partnership will harness the two organization’s expertise in enabling digital and financial inclusion of underserved communities to improve the lives and livelihoods of farmers in rural Uganda. To the partnership, UNCDF brings its extensive technical expertise in making digital work for rural, low-income segments alongside its suit of financing tools (grants, loans, guarantees) to ensure that relevant and impactful digital solutions are accessed and used by rural Ugandans through this platform. Centenary’s countrywide network and consumerbase, particularly in rural communities, will allow the solution-providers access to a large customer base that includes savings and credit associations that reach the most underserved communities.
Peter Kahiigi, Cente-Tech’s Chief Technology Officer noted that “The eFarmer Hub will offer convenient, one-stop access to quality farm inputs at discounted prices, input loans, learning content on farming, and access to markets. An excellent addition to these already incredible features is the presence of digital services, namely, eHealth, eCommerce, and eEducation, among other services.”
“Our objective is simple, to make small farmers big and big farmers better,” Kahiigi added.
UNCDF has been working to integrate digitalization into day-to-day services that meet the everyday needs of rural communities in the agriculture, finance, health, education and energy sectors with a specific focus on ensuring that traditionally marginalized populations like smallholder farmers, women, youth, and refugees can fully reap the benefits of an inclusive digital economy.
“UNCDF has made tremendous progress working with private sector partners to pilot and scale viable business models that improve access to and usage of digital products and services for underserved communities to improve their productivity and efficiency. Now in partnering with Cente-Tech, UNCDF hopes to pioneer a new model that drives mass-adoption and scale among rural farming communities for digital products and service offerings – fostering strategic partnerships in the process for better service-delivery to the target communities,” said Chris Lukolyo, Digital Country Lead, UNCDF.
Following the signing of the partnership framework, the two organizations will embark on building the Farmer Hub through collaboration with development stakeholders, including government entities, application developers, and solution providers, to ensure that more farmers access various digital services on the platform.
In addition to the Farmer Hub, UNCDF & Cente-Tech will provide financial and digital literacy training to users of the platform within the targeted districts, offer advisory services to solution providers, and create avenues for knowledge exchange among actors in the agricultural and digital ecosystems.
Commonly referred to as Cente-Tech, Centenary Technology Services is the technology company of Centenary Group. With a combined ICT industry experience of over 75 years in the public and private sector, Cente-Tech provides holistic technology solutions and delivers innovation that matters to enable and inspire growth. CenteTech’s niche lies in ICT advisory and Research, ICT Managed Services and Infrastructure, and ICT Innovation and Digital Services.