Uganda: How Agritech Has Increased Agricultural Produce, Created Jobs
By Amon Katungulu
The recent innovation that uses digital literacy and technology in the rural agricultural sector has registered tremendous success in terms of productivity and job creation.
In districts like Kisoro and neighboring districts in western Uganda, many have received employment through promoting services of Computer-based applications.
One of the leading agritech service providers is the area is Lolc Finance Uganda.
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The company currently gives direct employement to over 150 people employees some of whom are graduates who were stuck in villages looking for formal employment.
“Many of these youth act as foot soldiers in the different communities that use the Lolc Finance Uganda App and they assist the farmers on how to use our application and utilize the array of services. We have also created a network of over 50 agriculture experts who equip farmers with skills they need to improve their yield and grow their agribusinesses,” says Trevor Uwimana, the company’s Managing Director.
“This has brought the services of district agricultural officers closer to the people and created extra income for agricultural professionals.”
Already, the company has over 20,000 farmers who have benefitted from its range of services and many have attested to its timely interventions in their plight.
Joseph Nsabimana, one of the subscribers whom our reporter found on his farm at Buzeyi village, Nyarusiza subcounty, said he no longer suffers from getting financial assistance to prepare his farm for planting at the beginning of the season.
“We used to be limited on the acreage we could cultivate because of limited financial resources. Sometimes we could get money to hire laborers to plough and plant but then fail to get money for weeding which would lead us into making losses. But with Lolc Finance, we get financial advice and services at the comfort of our homes because those people move. They find us at our farms saving us the time we would have spent moving to the Sub-county or Kisoro town to get the service,” he said.
He says he used to earn about Shs300,000 from his half acre of land but he got a loan and now rents more land from which he currently earns over Shs1.5m in a season.
The company has a virtual consultation platform that connects farmers to extension experts who answer their queries.
The extension workers offer advice and information to smallholder farmers to help them solve their problems and improve their agriculture productivity using the platform.
“We realized that smallholder farmers need all kinds of information to run their farms successfully. These range from weather forecasting to knowing where to purchase specific products and where to obtain a credit facility when need arises. We are constantly creating partnerships with microfinance institutions. These microfinance institutions offer farmers timely access to credit which they use to purchase seeds, fertilizer, implements, and pesticides among others,” Uwimana said.
Lolc Finance Uganda operates in various areas including agriculture and financial services; soil health; food production systems; animal welfare; sustainable food supply; business appraisals, technical advice and value-added financial services such as agency banking and mobile money services.
Its App was launched in 2019 after its owners felt farmers were ready for the tech revolution.
In Uganda, according to the World Bank, agriculture contributes to 25% of the national GDP and employs 70% of the population.
With Africa’s population set to reach 2.5 billion by 2050, agricultural efficiency is critical to sustaining population growth so increasing productivity requires a combination of tech solutions and tech education.
For the rural areas that produce most of Uganda’s agricultural produce, access to information and digital literacy is key and Lolc Uganda has already embarked on this journey.
The company is successfully fundraising USD 500,000 to strengthen its network of extension experts and wider access to farmers in the African countries it operates in.