MUIIS Service Bundle officially launched in Kampala

MUIIS Project

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Benjamin Kwasi Addom, PhD Programme Manager, MUIIS Agro Business Park 2 Wageningen, the Netherlands.

Mrs. Carol Kyazze Kakooza
Project Manager, MUIIS African Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services (AFAAS) Plot 22A Nakasero Road, P.O. Box 34624 Kampala, Uganda.

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.

The MUIIS Service Bundle marketing team is currently moving on road across the country for farmers to subscribe to the service for the season. © MUIIS Uganda, 2017

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 to use information and communication technologies (ICTs) and big data to improve agribusiness and reduce poverty in Uganda.

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Copyright © 2016, CTA. Technical Centre for Rural and Agricultural Cooperation

This project is funded by The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and being implemented through the Geodata for Agriculture and Water (G4AW) Facility of the Netherlands Space Office (NSO).