After over one and a half years of thoughtful and careful preparations, the Market-led, User-owned ICT4Ag-enabled Information Service (MUIIS) Service Bundle was officially launched at the Uganda country office on 8 March 2017. The MUIIS Service Bundle consists of a series of context-specific weather alerts, agronomic tips and index-based insurance throughout the season and covers four agricultural commodities: maize, beans, sesame and soybeans.
Built together by a strong consortium of seven partners, both local and international, and other third party service providers, the service is geared towards harnessing satellite data to support extension and advisory service to farmers in Uganda. At the time of the launch, over 30,000 farmers had been profiled (digitally registered) and the registration can only increase when the platform is opened to the public and farmers see the value of the service bundle.
Cognisant of the importance of engaging various stakeholders in such undertakings, the consortium invited several dignitaries to get their buy-ins. These included the special Guest of Honour Mr. Anno Galema, First secretary for food security and private sector development at the Netherlands Embassy in Uganda; Dr Okasai Opolot, Director of crop resources at the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), and Mr. Peter Kahiigi, Director e-Government at the National Information Technology Authority - Uganda (NITA-U).
Mr. Galema reiterated the importance of agricultural information services such as MUIIS, that will go a long way in helping Uganda to raise productivity. "Agricultural production can no longer be business as usual as markets will demand a steadier and secure supply, higher quality standards and traceability", said Mr. Galema. To further augment farm productivity of the beneficiary farmers, the Project Manager, Mrs. Carol Kakooza stated that the drought index-based insurance component of the MUIIS Service Bundle is being provided through a consortium of insurance companies with support from the government of Uganda.
To ensure success and uptake of the service by farmers, several farmer organisations and agents have been trained to market and provide on-ground advisory services to the farmers in selected districts of Uganda. Dr Okasai, from MAAIF, pledged to take on the consortium and build partnerships to ensure farmers across the country benefit from the technology. Mr. Peter Kahiigi from NITA-U was equally excited about the service and pledged unwavering support and commitment of his unit to the project.
At the launch, subscriptions of the MUIIS Service Bundle were witnessed live on screens by the participants. The technical team from Ensibuuko Technologies and Mercy Corps showcased the system that included the data collection tool (ONA) and system dashboard. They also explained how farmers' data get into the MUIIS system and how profiled farmers can subscribe to the Service Bundle dialing a short code (*270*67#) to access the platform on any type of phone.
Additionally, as a follow up to the launch and media publicity, the project is going to roll out a marketing campaign throughout the month of March in selected districts with the help of a local marketing firm Arco Iris Media. Promotional activities will include radio to help the project quickly cover considerable ground and enhance the visibility of the project in the targeted areas, to consolidate the gains and momentum generated; and distribution of information, education and communication materials through MUIIS Service Agents (MSAs) and different farmer organisations.
Going forward to effectively implement the MUIIS Service Bundle, and ensure attraction of a critical mass on the platform, various synergies have to be built with relevant stakeholder's, partners, donors and investors to ensure sustainability and smooth running of the business and quality service provision to rural farmers in Uganda.
The project targets majorly smallholder farmers in Uganda. For decades, smallholder farmers have been ignored by the insurance service providers mainly because of low and unreliable productivity, limited capacity to save or even understand insurance operations. The information service is expected to result in increased production and sales profits to farmers. The project has a committed and experienced team from different partners including farmer organisations and with expertise and passion for using information and communication technologies (ICTs) and big data for improving agribusiness and reducing poverty in Uganda.
- Visit the website of the MUIIS project
- Read the article 'Ugandan farmers look to the future with smartphone and satellite technology'
- Read about the seven principles of the MUIIS project
- Read about MUIIS in an article in the Daily Monitor
- Read about the launch of the MUIIS Service Bundle in an article on NITA-U's website