The Private Sector Forum 2018, running under the theme “Harnessing digitalization for the development of Agricultural value chains in Uganda” focused on the various ways through which advancing technologies can be integrated to improve the agriculture sector in the country.
Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, the organizers, on their website, said the event was organized with an aim of facilitating a policy dialogue between practitioners in agriculture value chains and relevant policy makers that will pave way for formulation of better policies that support agricultural development through innovations in ICT.
The event took place on June 1, 2018 at Makerere University, Food Science and Technology Conference Hall.
It featured Michael Niyitegeka, the country manager-ICDL Africa as the keynote speaker, and panelists included Dr Drake Patrick Mirembe (PhD), an expert in ICT for Development and Learning technologies; Maureen Agena, ICT4 Development consultant; and Dr. Rwamigisa from Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) Uganda.
With agriculture undoubtedly being the backbone of Uganda’s economy, employing close to 70% of the working population, according to a report on National Development Plan II, analysts argue that Uganda has to establish a digital strategy in order to boost the sector.
The same report goes ahead to indicate that in 2014, the agriculture sector contributed 24% to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), making it the largest contributor.
During his presentation, Niyitegeka said that strategies to improve the agricultural sector should be mobile passed since most Ugandans access the internet via mobile phones.
As a developer, it’s better you “innovate” something that can be accessed via mobile, he advised, giving an example of how the mobile money service has helped farmers make multiple transactions.
He also called on innovators to include middlemen in their developments since they contribute a lot in the market chain.
On her part, Agena said that developers should come up with tools that facilitate documentation, observing that: “We don’t document many things in this country. Many things come and go. We need to write and document more.”
She also went ahead to applaud the government’s efforts to digitize the sector, citing the forthcoming electronic registration of farmers in the country.
Apart from the discussions, agric-technology innovations exhibitions too took place at the event.
Big2Bit presented a product which uses Blockchain technology to enhance the supply chain of agricultural products, Hamwe East Africa showcased the M-Farmer app which helps farmers in their groups to create a management platform and Holland Greentech presented a soil scanner which helps the farmer know how to use their soil.
— Akira Digital (@AkiraDigital) June 1, 2018
Discussions also focused on how payments can be digitized in the agricultural sector. Major key players in digital payments like MTN Uganda held a presentation on how farmers could best use mobile money.
Mercycorps explained the need to invest in e-voucher recharging cards and finally Opportunity Bank held a presentation on its modes of service delivery that include access to financial services through one’s mobile phone.