CENTE-TECH, UNCDF PARTNER TO CREATE A SINGLE DIGITAL MARKETPLACE FOR FARMERS
By Mulengera Reporters
Centenary Technology Services (Cente-Tech) and the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) have today announced a strategic partnership to improve farmers’ livelihoods by digitizing agribusinesses through a single digital agri-based marketplace. The deal will see the two partners use the digital marketplace to boost the agribusiness value chain and holistically enhance farmers’ livelihoods.
Cente-Tech is the Centenary Group Technology Company which was established with the sole purpose of providing shared IT services and digital innovative solutions to increase efficiency, effectiveness and improve the socio-economic well-being of Ugandans within the Group eco-system and across the nation. On the other hand, UNCDF is famous for making public and private finance work for the poor in the world’s 46 least developed countries (LDCs). UNCDF offers ‘last mile’ finance models that unlock public and private resources, especially at the domestic level, to reduce poverty and support local economic development.
As part of this partnership, over the next two years, the two organizations will implement a single platform named the ‘Farmer Hub’ as a public good designed to provide access to digital services for farmers in their day-to-day lives. The partnership is also expected to harness the two organizations’ expertise in enabling digital and financial inclusion of underserved communities to improve the lives and livelihoods of farmers in rural Uganda.
Following the signing of the partnership framework, the two organizations will embark on building the Farmer Hub through collaboration with development stakeholders, including government entities, application developers, and solution providers, to ensure that more farmers access various digital services on the platform. In addition to the Farmer Hub, UNCDF and Cente-Tech will provide financial and digital literacy training to users of the platform within the targeted districts, offer advisory services to solution providers, and create avenues for knowledge exchange among actors in the agricultural and digital ecosystems.
In this timely collaboration, UNCDF brings its extensive technical expertise in making digital work for rural, low-income segments alongside its suit of financing tools such as grants, loans, and guarantees to ensure that relevant and impactful digital solutions are accessed and used by rural Ugandans through this platform.
On the other hand, Centenary’s countrywide network and consumer base, particularly in rural communities, will allow the solution-providers access to a large customer base that includes savings and credit associations that reach the most underserved communities.
Peter Kahiigi, Cente-Tech’s Chief Technology Officer, explained that Cente-Tech thrives on delivering innovative solutions that matter, thanks to its great technical experience. The tech company also seeks to be the choice partner for market expansion and poverty eradication among rural communities, as well as ICT advisory and management. He noted that the group has a reach of close to 2.6 million customers, 12,000 SACCOs, 46,000 VSLAs, 80 branches, 189 ATMs, 5,200 agents, an affiliation of 264 hospitals, and nearly 3,400 schools. “Our reach is truly national and we want to use this reach to empower and strengthen the rural poor,” added Kahiigi.
He further noted that the partnership’s objective is “to make small farmers big and big farmers better through a single digital platform.” Kahiigi added: “The eFarmer Hub will offer convenient, one-stop access to quality farm inputs at discounted prices, input loans, learning content on farming, and access to markets. An excellent addition to these already incredible features is the presence of digital services, namely, eHealth, eCommerce, and eEducation, among other services.” On his part, Fabian Kasi, the Managing Director of Centenary Bank, noted that the issues of agriculture and rural farmers touch on the heart and mission of the financial institution.
Chris Lukolyo, Digital Country Lead, UNCDF, explained that the organization was working a number of programs, including one whose focus is on leaving no one behind in the digital era. Lukolyo went on to note that UNCDF takes on different initiatives to foster inclusive innovation, development of skills for underserved communities, as well as supporting a regulatory environment that enables individuals to access and use digital services. Explaining that Centenary Group presents millions of rural women and youth farmers, an audience that solution providers can plug into, and standardize documentation, APIs and quality of delivery to increase productivity. Lukolyo further expressed optimism that the partnership will make mass adoption of technologies possible.
He noted that UNCDF has been working to integrate digitalization into day-to-day services that meet the everyday needs of rural communities in the agriculture, finance, health, education and energy sectors with a specific focus on ensuring that traditionally marginalized populations like smallholder farmers, women, youth, and refugees can fully reap the benefits of an inclusive digital economy.
“UNCDF has made tremendous progress working with private sector partners to pilot and scale viable business models that improve access to and usage of digital products and services for underserved communities to improve their productivity and efficiency. Now in partnering with Cente-Tech, UNCDF hopes to pioneer a new model that drives mass-adoption and scale among rural farming communities for digital products and service offerings – fostering strategic partnerships in the process for better service-delivery to the target communities,” said UNCDF’s Lukolyo.
He also saluted Dr Aminah Zawedde, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance, for supporting UNCDF, Centenary Group and other entities, as well as for putting in place an enabling policy and regulatory environment.
Speaking at the signing of the partnership framework, PS Dr Zawedde emphasized that digital technologies have the capacity to enable farmers to understand the interdependence of the factors that affect their farm productivity. She further noted that these technologies also play a key role in optimizing the use of seeds, pesticides and animal management, thus contributing to a more efficient use of resources. She described the UNCDF-Cente-Tech partnership as a landmark deal. “I congratulate UNCDF and Cente-Tech upon this landmark initiative. The Government of Uganda shall support this private sector led technology intervention,” said Zawedde.
She further noted that the “sought-after transformation from subsistence to commercial and competitive domination can only be positive with the use of technology.” PS Zawedde noted that UNCDF has the global reach to access the latest technologies while Cente-Tech has the local reach of over 20 million people in its ecosystem. (For comments on this story, get back to us on 0705579994 [whatsapp line], 0779411734 & 0200900416 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org).