Vincent Kizito is living with his grandmother in Kabanyi village of Luwero district. The only property they own is a huge piece of land that is lying idle because they lack the resource to develop it.
But about a year ago, Kizito heard his friends talking about AgriShare APP, an online platform that can help landowners earn some money by renting out their land.
“My friends advised me to download the app and I told my granny about it. We saw their services and contacted them. That’s how they hired our land,” he says.
“My granny is now able to pay our school fees. They have rented 23 acres of my granny’s land and farmers are using it to plant cassava, maize, and watermelons, among others,” he adds.
Kizito’s story is one of the over 40,000 people who have benefited from AgriShare’s services which include connecting people who want to hire agricultural resources to those willing to rent them.
For instance, Kosea Asinguza is a Tractor operator who also joined the AgriShare platform recently and was able to hire out his tractor to plough 25 acres in Luwero.
And he is happy with the service.
“We receive our payments from the bank or mobile money. It is really a good platform but they should improve on advertisement because most people are not aware of them,” he says.
According to Paul Zaake, the managing director and co-founder of AgriShare Uganda Limited, the core principle of this innovation is to empower smallholder farmers.
“These are people growing crops and rearing livestock in villages. The challenge is that these people are producing less and this means that they sell less which translates into more poverty. They also eat less which leads to food insecurity,” he says.
He attributes this sorry cycle to a lack of key agricultural resources such as land, tractors, irrigation pumps, and farm workers.
“If you travel from Kampala to Gulu, Masaka, Jinja, and Karamoja, you will see a lot of idle land lying on the sides. Who’s owning this land? Is there potential to grow crops on the land?” he wonders.
According to the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), 70 percent of the land in Uganda is arable, but 40 percent of this is lying idle. This is how AgriShare comes in.
“We connect people who own these resources to those who want them. We innovatively do this through our AgriShare App which is available on Play Store. You just download it and can share but also access the resources,” Zaake says.
The application so far has 40,000 active farmers and has facilitated over 50,000 transactions. Zaake says that what started as a pilot project in three districts has since been scaled up to become a national project.
To ease service delivery, AgriShare partnered with telecoms MTN and Airtel by integrating their APIs into the APP. This means that farmers can be able to make and receive payments with ease.
“Some farmers don’t have smartphones and we have taken steps to ensure that they can make payments through the merchants or Airtel and MTN. Of course, some corporate farmers pay through the bank, and those who access our offices and pay by cash,” he says.
40 Days 40 FinTechs.
Zaake says one of the challenges FinTechs face is a lack of exposure and visibility due to limited marketing resources. He is thus happy to be part of Season Four of the 40 Days 40 FinTechs which offers FinTechs across the East African region an opportunity to showcase their products and impact.
“At the end of the initiative, there’s usually an exhibition that provides an opportunity to interact with other actors within the sector. It also helps to collaborate and get more partnerships. This is key in Uganda where many actors were previously working in silos,” he says.
AgriShare is participant number 13 of the fourth season of the 40 Days 40 FinTechs initiative.
HiPipo’s 40 Days 40 FinTechs initiative has become a household name in the financial technology space in Africa. In the last three editions, more than 100 FinTechs have been showcased, highlighting stories changing people’s lives, especially in the under-served sectors.
The initiative is organized by HiPipo in partnership with the Level One Project, Mojaloop Foundation, INFITX, Cyberplc Academy, Ideation Corner, and Crosslake Technologies with generous support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.