From development project to sustainable business model
Sub-Saharan Africa is still one of the poorest regions in the world - and at the same time undergoing a great deal of change. In order to seize opportunities, it needs to improve its food situation and expand its agriculture. For K+S, this holds growth potential. That is why we doing long-term investments here.
K+S activities in Uganda
Together with our local partner, the Sasakawa Africa Association, we have been involved in the "Growth for Uganda" aid project for more than five years. It was successfully completed in spring 2019. The project was primarily concerned with imparting knowledge to Ugandan smallholders. Our focus was on improving soil fertility and increasing productivity and crop yields.
More than 130,000 smallholders in the region were trained and more than 450,000 people were able to improve their income. K+S also invested in local agricultural infrastructure, for example in fertilizer mixing plants and facilities for the handling, processing and storage of grain.
With the experience gained from "Growth for Uganda", we have developed a new business model for the East African country. The aim is to create a forward-looking trading platform for Ugandan smallholders.
It is often the small changes that can make a big difference in Uganda. With important expertise in cultivation and access to resources, small scale farmers can make a very good living from their harvests."
Cooperation with local partners
In the summer of 2018, K+S invested in the Ugandan company Grainpulse Limited in order to give smallholders better access to the market. Grainpulse offers plant-specific fertilizer mixtures in small quantities. Farmers receive recommendations as to how these should be applied. They can sell their crop to Grainpulse for further processing, enrichment and resale to customers.
A critical issue here is financing: Many smallholders can hardly afford fertilizers from their own resources. They have no access to financing opportunities. This is why they often buy fertilizers from local suppliers not in bags, but in cups.
Moreover, many small farmers have neither the time nor the means to drive their harvest to the markets. They often farm in remote areas. In addition, extreme weather conditions and incalculable dry and rainy seasons repeatedly lead to severe crop failures.
Comprehensive digital solutions
It is here that we see the need for comprehensive solutions. The various issues and challenges must be combined in a meaningful way. We are relying on a digital approach.
Together with the start-up company Akorion Limited, which specializes in information and communication for agricultural enterprises, K+S wants to connect small farmers to the market. Akorion offers digital access to agricultural inputs and a marketplace for harvest products as well as financing and insurance. The Ugandan company uses a "Village Agent Model": Agents are recruited and trained in various communities. They provide the smallholders in their region with the corresponding services via smart phone apps. The cooperation with a young financial service provider from South Africa, which among other things offers digital payment, will round off this offer for small farmers in the near future. We in turn contribute our agricultural application know-how to this network and supply the required fertilizers.
Here, K+S is investing in long-term cooperation that is strongly geared to local cultural and economic characteristics.
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We are already working on the future
K+S is engaged in many projects and initiatives concerning growth opportunities for the future. You can find out more about them here.