Market-led, User-owned ICT4Ag-enabled Information Service (MUIIS) is an innovative project that harnesses the power of satellite data to support extension and advisory services to farmers in Uganda. A critical component of MUIIS is the capacity building activities of farmer organisations to own the information service and provide advisory services to their members.
The project is funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) through the G4AW Facility of Netherlands Space Office (NSO) and it is being implemented by CTA in partnership with the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), aWhereInc., the East African Farmers’ Federation (EAFF), EARS Earth Environment Monitoring (EARS-E2M), the eLEAF Competence Center (eLEAF), and Mercy Corps, Uganda.
The project design is based on the need for timely, accurate and actionable information regarding crop management and climate risks and the production and postharvest demands of selected value chains in the country. The design is also based on proof of concept that satellite data-enabled extension and advisory services can lead to about 40% increase in farmers’ productivity; a globally-acclaimed success story of information and communication technologies for agriculture (ICT4Ag) service being provided by farmer cooperative in India; and the fact that a number of mobile platforms have been taken to market in Uganda with users willing to pay for agricultural and financial information services.
1- Multi-stakeholder approach
The MUIIS project takes a multi-stakeholder approach by recognising the unique expertise of each partner in the delivery of ICT-enabled extension services to farmers. The information chain (circle) of MUIIS has three components: data, knowledge and information. Each of these components has dedicated partners with experience and expertise in delivering the products and making sure that the products from each part of the chain complement the needs of the other components.
2- Market-led (value chain approach)
A major challenge in the implementation of ICTs in agricultural projects is the failure to sustain the project after donor support has ended. In the MUIIS project, private sector partners – aWhere, EARS and eLEAF are driving the process as they are more likely to bring creativity and out-of-the-box thinking to the provision of value-added ICT-based services. The implication is that this will lead to a more sustainable venture that is based on demand from users. In the spirit of farming as a business, a good mix of value chains – low value (maize) and high value (soy bean and sesame) – have been selected to ensure that potential MUIIS users are able to pay for the services.
3- User-owned (demand-driven)
The project design is based on famers’ needs – the eventual owners of MUIIS. The farmer organisation representative of the consortium, the East African Farmers’ Federation (EAFF), was involved from the design stage. Selection of the value chains (maize, soya bean and sesame) as well as information products (weather alerts, agronomic tips and financial service) was based on a baseline study report by in-country partners. At the end of the three-year project, MUIIS will be owned by EAFF with revenue sharing agreements with other partners within the consortium. This is to ensure that the content is relevant to farmer users.
4- Farmer-to-farmer extension
Farmer-to-farmer extension is described as “the provision of training by farmers to farmers, often through the creation of a structure of farmer promoters and farmer trainers”1. About 200 farmer’s/lead farmers (ground agents) will be selected, trained and equipped with smartphones and content to support MUIIS information delivery to members as well as carry out other business-oriented tasks such as sale of mobile money and insurance products, data collection, and market linkages.
5- Anchored on groups and cooperatives
Working through EAFF, farmer participation in the project will be based on their membership in farmer groups or cooperatives in central, eastern, northern, and western Uganda. Initial involvement will include around 150,000 farmers out of 4 million members of the Ugandan National Farmers’ Federation (UNFFE) and Ugandan Cooperative Alliance (UCA). Subscription to the bundled information products (weather alerts, agronomic tips and financial service) will be strictly through groups and cooperatives. MUIIS will also facilitate access to input and output markets by these groups.
6- Multi-tier capacity development
The MUIIS project has a strong focus on capacity building. Besides the conventional training of project beneficiaries, capacity building for access, use and provision of satellite-based agricultural information will also be provided, which will enhance farmers’ groups production and marketing capacities. Among other capacity building activities, a coordinated ICT infrastructure linking satellite data to actionable information will be built and made available to over 350,000 smallholder farmers and other value chain actors through EAFF. In parallel, print and digital publications on the value of satellite data/remote sensing for agriculture will be made available and gender specific information products will be produced and delivered to farmers through the 200 farmer groups.
7- Innovative use of ICTs
Satellite data will be acquired from a number of sources and data analytics carried out to provide intelligent agronomic tips on amount of inputs to use, daily weather on timing/length of season, preventive practices or early warnings, responses to pest/disease attacks, financial/index-based insurance services, and market intelligence on where and when to sell.
Learn more about the MUIIS project
- Ugandan farmers look to the future with smartphone and satellite technology
- Public-private consortium wins €4.6 million grant to provide satellite-based crop advice for Ugandan farmers
- Download the MUIIS project flyer
- Follow the updates on social media with hashtag #MUIIS
- Subscribe to the Linked In group ‘GA4W Space for Food Security’ of the Geodata for Agriculture and Water (G4AW) of the Netherlands Space Office (NSO)