If there is such a thing as nature’s lottery, then Uganda won it given its geographical location. With the equatorial line running through the country, Uganda enjoys the perks that come with the famous latitude, which are warm and wet climes that make for rich soils and a haven for plant life.
The country’s natural attributes are why Agriculture contributes significantly to the economy, employing about 75 per cent of the country’s population, contributing 20 per cent of the GDP and about 48 per cent of export earnings.
This means that Agriculture is the backbone of the economy and yet, one will find that the country is performing under its capacity. A country that could become the food basket of the region practices agriculture mostly on a small scale, for subsistence and local trade. All hope is not lost however, because most of these problems can be solved or minimized with the adoption of modern technology and a focus on Innovation. This is why, Innovation drives like Innovate For Agriculture are imperative.
In 2018, three companies looking to fix their most pressing challenges went on a hunt for innovative solutions and thus the I4A innovation challenge came into being. The three problems in question were;
- Establishing Farmer Loyalty
- Management of agricultural value chains
- Access to farm extension services
The innovation challenge has occurred in three phases;
The first phase was a 3-day boot camp where 120 applicants divided into 30 teams went through a selection process that consisted of 5 minutes pitch sessions. At the end of 3-day boot camp, 10 teams had qualified for the acceleration phase. The teams selected for the accelerator program went through a series of training, to further help them improve, test and iterate their product to speak to gaps identified.
The second phase a 3-month Accelerator program that involved a mix between immersion, design thinking, business and financial modelling to guide the teams on building a feasible solution and viable business. This program culminated into a Demo Day on Friday 10th May where 4 teams were selected to run a pilot with a respective partner.
The third and final phase is the pilot phase where the 4 selected teams will receive seed funding of up to UGX 50 Million in order to scale their solutions with the anchor partners.
The anchor partners for the project are Mukwano Group, Welthungerhilfe, NUCAFE and the implementing partners are MTN Uganda, United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and The Innovation Village.