A version of this article was originally posted on the Covid-19 Business Info Hub.

The COVID-19 Business Info Hub spoke to Christian Karamagi, Innovation Lead at Stanbic Bank Uganda Limited (SBUL), to understand how the One Farm Platform is creating business linkages within the agribusiness sector in Uganda. Read along to find out more.

What is the One Farm Platform?

The One Farm Platform, which is channel partner-led, is essentially a data-driven digital solution that creates business linkages within the agribusiness ecosystem, especially between smallholder and enterprise service providers like banks, insurance companies, exporters, and manufacturers. The platform has two main components. The first is supply certainty, the assurance that there is the right quality and quantity at the right time. The second is supply optimization, which is about empowering smallholders to produce at maximum capacity. The components are critical for SMEs to forecast the crop to buy from farmers, which helps builds trust between the farmers and SMEs.

Information is critical to creating meaningful linkages. The platform captures data on; location, acreage, and inputs to prepare data profiles of the farmers. This data is aggregated to estimate total production in each area and shared with off-takers or SMEs and other service providers. The profiling helps formalize the sector by providing farmers with a digital identity, giving them access to finance, insurance, agronomy and market linkage. It also helps the users grow their farming business, giving them credit and financial history, creating trust, increasing productivity, improving access to markets, and managing counterparty risk. SMEs use this information to make business decisions on where to source, when to supply the clients and the financing source. Other service providers, such as input suppliers, can project and plan for demand from the farmers.

The platform delivers its benefits to the users through the categories below:

  • Lend: is credit, including farmer production loans and value chain financing.
  • Protect: this is savings and insurance currently weather-based index.
  • Trade: this is the linkage within the marketplace, allowing SMEs to tap into the out-grower database. It includes a digital marketplace.
  • Grow: this focuses on offering agronomic services to farmers to enable them to grow their crops well.
  • Share: this refers to reaching out to communities with available food to feed the hungry.

How does the bank facilitate the participation of different actors on the platform? 

The platform is channel partner enabled. The bank has various approaches to engaging different actors on the platform, as elaborated below.

We are adopting multiple repayment options for the SMEs and farmers who have received lending using our hybrid models. It allows them to pay conveniently and access additional financing for their operations.

Delivery of timely financial services to suit the agricultural seasons when farmers need the finance through One Farm Lend. We know that farmers may miss out on the planting season in case of delays in the availability of financing to buy inputs. We manage the lending process to ensure that farmers apply for financing well in time to avoid any delays.

Establishing partnerships with NGOs/Donors, fintech & Agritechs, input suppliers, equipment leasing companies, and insurance providers has helped us increase the use of the platform. Working with the various partners brings onboard a broad range of services, experience and expertise that platform users can tap into.

We have embedded financial literacy and agricultural extension services for farmers and SMEs through One Farm Grow. These are influencing behavioural change, adopting new technologies, and best practices for sustainable solutions.

What is the future of the platform?

Our vision is to have the One Farm platform as the leading ecosystem driver in Uganda’s agriculture sector. Scaling up for the platform is also underway, which means capacity and capability initiatives. The first plan is to increase the number of data profiles to 20,000 profiles by June 2021. Second, we plan to incorporate more value chains from maize to coffee, beans, barley and oilseeds. We continue to engage different stakeholders and partners, especially SMEs, as buyers, SACCOs and fintech & Agri-techs, facilitating the development of value chains. Finally, we plan to empower young people to integrate such digital solutions into farm practices because we understand that the future of digitization in agriculture lies with the youth.