On 29th of March, KAS cooperated with its partner ACTADE (African Center for Trade and Development) to host a roundtable discussion at Sheraton Hotel Kampala and to come up with ideas on how to digitize agricultural value chains in Uganda. Experts and practitioners discussed about challenges and opportunities to support the growth and development of the agriculture sector.
The agriculture sector is the major contributor to Ugandas economy by employing nearly 70% of the working population. However, smallholder farmers face several challenges affecting their productivity. Limited access to information and payment services and poor quality and quantity of products that do not meet market demand create barriers to the development of the agriculture sector of Uganda.
Through agriculture value chains smallholder farmers become part of a wider system instead of operating alone. As being part of this system a constant networking and access to relevant information and payment service is crucial to effectively boost their production value. So far, Uganda has not fully exploited its potential of linking digital tools with the agricultural sector, though the digital era has reached the country by far. Most farmers in rural areas still find it very difficult to use and access to digital platforms to get market information. Hence, digitizing agriculture value chains comes with distinct opportunities which allow stakeholders to monitor operations, reduce communication costs and building a greater knowledge base for farmers to the market availability and quality of their delivered products.
The discussion kicked off with a short introduction by Susan Nanduddu, Executive Director of ACTADE, highlighting the benefits digitization presents to the development of agriculture value chains. Teddy Ruge, moderator of the day, lead over to the first sessions followed by a continuous question and answer format to lift up the discussion.
Going further, Humphrey Mutaasa, the first speaker of the day took all experts and practitioners through the digital landscape of the agricultural value chains. “Agriculture as a sector depends on ICT to survive and thrive” as he came to mention the gaps in the information system, creating barriers for the agriculture sector to grow sufficiently.
25 core actors and practitioners of the ICT and agriculture sector took part in the roundtable discussion, sharing ideas and knowledge on how best to make digitizing work for the agriculture sector in Uganda and how to ensure good marketing of agriproducts. In this regard, Jane Mugenyi from MTN Uganda, the largest telecom company in Uganda, spoke about digitizing financial payments for agriculture and enhancing networks in rural areas to support smallholder farmers. “Mobile Money transaction costs still remain a roadblock for digitizing agriculture value chains” as one of the experts started the debate about limited access to agricultural finance systems.
The roundtable discussion brought up relevant conversations about digitizing agriculture value chains, enabling important experts to share ideas, knowledge and experience of their work to address gaps in the agriculture sector. The output of the discussion will be shared with relevant policy makers of specific Ministries and Departments for further uptake about the necessity of digitizing agriculture.