How a smartphone app is improving the lives of African smallholder farmers
Together with local partners, K+S offers the EzyAgric App in Africa, which helps small-scale farmers to improve their harvests thereby raising their standard of living. The first successes are promising, as the story of Nasaka Mary Goreti from Uganda shows.
Agriculture has shaped the life of Nasaka Mary Goreti since her childhood. The 55-year-old lives in a house made of clay in the heart of Uganda and works the fields the way her parents and grandparents did. She cultivates corn, tomatoes, cabbage, and coffee on comparatively small fields. The work is hard and the harvest yields are usually not very good. Mary has seven children who were only able to attend school sometimes and became sick more often when food was scarce.
Harvest yield increased eightfold in a short period of time
When an EzyAgric Agent introduced her to the EzyAgric App one day, she was curious and gave it a try. The app helps her analyze soil, purchase seeds, make the best use of fertilizers and other tools, improve access to the market to sell her products and credit to help scale her farming. Very quickly, many things in her life changed for the better. In the past, Mary earned the equivalent of only about 100 USD per harvest. Now it is 800 USD, thanks to the innovative EzyAgric App.
“At first, this system with the app was completely new to me. Now I can even put some savings in the bank. So if I want to buy something, I just go to the bank and take it out. Now I have my own bank account,” says Mary. Akorion has now developed a new functionality on EzyAgric called EzyCredits that allows Mary to access agricultural financial assistance for specific inputs and services.
Mary was able to build a new, bigger house and buy the land she had previously only rented. She also has farm animals and all her children can now go to school.
K+S is committed to cooperation with local companies
“We want to strengthen agriculture in the Sub-Saharan region of Africa, and we want to do so through local cooperation,” emphasizes Janina Kaiser, Head of Strategy and Innovation for Sub-Saharan Africa. “For example, we initially invested in the Ugandan company Grainpulse Limited, which offers agricultural inputs for small-scale farmers, especially quality fertilizers for the respective crops. On the other hand, products such as coffee, cereals and legumes are also processed. Later, we joined forces with the pan-African Fintech company MFS Africa Limited to invest in Akorion, a Ugandan start-up company. This team of young entrepreneurs developed the EzyAgric App, which digitalizes the agricultural value chain in Uganda,” Kaiser continues.
The young men and women at Akorion, who are the people behind this app, want to expand the application to the entire continent. For William Luyinda, CEO and co-founder of Akorion, Uganda is just the beginning. He still has a lot to do with EzyAgric: “Over the next 12 months, through our partnership with K+S and MFS Africa, we plan to find a pan-African solution and expand the scope of the app to Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, and Zambia.”
Even if farmers do not have a smartphone, they can access the EzyAgric App through a network of village agents. The agents visit them regularly and help to increase the harvest, improving the quality of life of the small-scale farmers. This helps the hard-working communities develop and thrive.
Nasaka Mary Goreti sits with her youngest child in front of her new house and looks ahead optimistically: “In the future, it is my goal to save more money. When I retire, I also want to do animal rearing. I can finally make plans for the future.”
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