Theme: Digitizing Agricultural Value Chains in Uganda.
Date: 28th March 2018
Venue: Sheraton Hotel
Agriculture is undeniably, the mainstay of Uganda’s economy. It employs nearly 70% of the working population, 77% of whom are women, and 63% are youth mostly residing in the rural areas (National Development Plan II). In 2014, the agriculture sector contributed 24% to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) 1. Official export statistics show that of the USD 2.9 billion earned in 2016, close to half was realised from agricultural products.
The sector which is largely sustained by smallholder farmers is faced with many challenges which affect production and productivity. These include limited access to agricultural finance, a weak agricultural extension system, poor quality and quantity of produce that does not meet market demands, among others.
Agriculture value chains link farm production to rural trading and other sectors of the economy. Smallholder farmers therefore, do not operate in isolation but are part of a wider system. Digitizing agriculture value chains thus presents opportunities for many actors in the value chain that include effective control and monitoring of operations, reducing communication costs, greater mobilisation of farmers and produce, facilitating payments, building the knowledge base for farmers to market availability and quality; to mention but a few.
According to the USAID briefing paper Key lessons for mobile finance in African Agriculture for example, mobile finance can benefit agriculture value chains by providing a cheaper, more efficient, traceable and transparent payment method for high volume, low value transactions.
It can also facilitate more widespread access to agricultural financial services by reducing the adminstrative costs to financial institutions and providing more accessible repayment and savings options for customers. Digitizing agriculture value chains also presents opportunities for the development of data ecosystems which can support farming by making it economically profitable and enviromentally sustainable. Such systems allow the bi-directional flow of data and information between farmers, value chain actors and chain support services delivering value such weather forecasts, timing for key operations like planting and harvesting and market price volatility.
Rationale for the roundtable discussion
The opportunities presented through digitisation of agriculture value chains are yet to be fully exploited. A roundtable discussion is planned to convene core actors in the ICT for agriculture sub sector, to share knowledge about the benefits and challenges of digitisation of agriculture value chains. This learning will facilitate a conversation in a larger stakeholder group through a Private Sector Forum, from which recommendations shall be shared with relevant policy makers and practitioners for further uptake especially by the smallholders they target.
To facilitate a conversation about digitization opportunities and challenges in supporting the growth of agricultural value chains in Uganda. The conversation will be limited to digitizing information services (including quality and availability of agro-inputs, financial credit, weather, extension services and markets) and financial payments.