Agricultural Value chain development

Organization: 

KIVA Agro Supplies Ltd

Organization Type: 

Private Company

Describe the approaches utilized to measure / assess this KM initiative: 

KIVA, in partnership with the local NGOs, has carried out impact assessments to determine the effect of the initiative on the end users. In particular, face to face interviews were used to ascertain (or measure) behavioral change and changes in the standards of living of farmers using our system. An interview guide was used while conducting the interviews. Results have revealed testimonies of farmers building better shelter and paying fees for their children, and women acquiring land for farming. Women being the majority in these groups had no land for cultivation. But through linking them to markets, they were able to sell the little they had and save money to purchase land. In most of these regions, women are the wage earners while men are heavily dependent on alcohol. The outcome of the KM assessment showed that empowering the women has benefited the whole family and that linking farmers to markets is an integral part to rural development. The assessment was conducted after one year of operation and it is an ongoing process as it will assist in determining the impact of the initiative across different farmer groups and regions. The measurement was integrated into the local NGOs’ M&E framework. This measurement was carried out by staff from the local NGOs in close collaboration with farmer leaders. The team that collected data was not part of the implementing team; this was done to avoid biases in responses.

Sector: 

Agriculture

What do you think are the main unanswered questions or challenges related to this field of work?: 

Debate with professionals that have worked on other KM business models for farmers in developing countries would be enriching. An exchange of views (through a SWOT analysis, for example) with colleagues that do not believe in such business approach would also be interesting.

What was the purpose or motivation for assessing this KM initiative? : 

This KM initiative was conducted to determine whether a market intelligence service using SMS operated as a business can be appropriate to linking farmers to markets.

What were the most important lessons learned about the assessment process?: 

The assessment was very instrumental in revealing the relationship between the SMS market intelligence service and its ability to link farmers to markets. The appropriateness of the questionnaire showed how farmers in Eastern Uganda had sold groundnuts worth $26,000. It also demonstrated farmers’ willingness to share information on available produce and make projections for future seasons enabling buyers to know what will be available. From this, it could be deduced that the use of simple ICT tools, like basic mobile phones, can revolutionize a community. The assessment also discovered the potential of the system to grow if translated into different languages. Throughout the project, the greatest challenge consisted of developing codes for products and markets that are understandable by all users. The issue of the language was of great concern; the system is currently being implemented to translate into many different languages so to cover the majority of the farmers who are not literate. Providing the application was not enough, the KM assessment revealed that farmers also need training in business skills.

What would you do differently next time?: 

The assessments are ongoing processes which also help us to further develop the system based on the users’ needs. They will further be improved as the business grows; (we are planning to introduce video cameras and audio recorders in the interviews to capture real images and voices of the testimonies). The revelation that farmers are generating business through the system justifies the costs of the assessment.

Describe the KM initiative: 

KIVA Agro supplies Ltd, which specializes in value chain development, has created a management information system assisting farmers/producers from Uganda in identifying counterfeit inputs and compensating for inadequate information about markets. This KM initiative, implemented through the Rural Entrepreneurial Communication Network, has the objective to safeguard farmers from counterfeiting and link them to markets. Farmers are often ignorant about market demand and supply. On their side, buyers are interested in timely delivery of quality produce but do not know where to find it. KIVA has introduced a short messaging service linking farmers to markets. Farmers post the quantities they have in store and the price they want to sell. Similarly, traders post the products they are interested in, the quantities and amount they are willing to buy. This system also provides prices of commodities in major markets in Uganda for farmers to make informed decisions. Furthermore, KIVA is implementing the Product Authentication Service. When producers buy a product from an input store, they find an identification number which they send through their mobile phones to a short code that provides them feedback on whether the product is fake or genuine. If the product is fake, the system alerts the buyer via sms and rejects the product providing a toll free number to report the supplier. The KM strategies applied in this initiative consist of collaborating with organized farmers and partnering with local NGOs to promote the service as well as with those local manufacturers encouraging users to check on products authenticity.

What advice would you give to others based on your experience?: 

Development initiatives aimed at supporting farmers should not only focus only on increasing yield but also ensure that farmers have market for their produce. Support organizations must partner among themselves and apply a holistic approach to develop the value chain as a whole, instead of concentrating on single aspects in isolation. Farmers should also be trained on how to produce for the market. It is important to network with organizations and further develop existing initiatives to maximize results and reduce costs rather than using resources to duplicate what has already been implemented by others.

Country: 

Uganda

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