They say information is power, as relevant information can go a long way in making the right decisions. The agribusiness scene in Africa still lags behind that of other continents, as farmers don’t rely on any economically sound agricultural information to conduct their business. That is where M-Ahwii comes to the rescue.
M-Ahwii Limited is a mobile-based platform invented by three students to provide quality agricultural information to farmers geared toward higher yield and fetching the best market prices. The service currently running a pilot program in Rwanda aims at expanding across the entire East African region.
M-Ahwii Limited was founded by Lilian Uwintwali alongside her two friends, and the company has been running a year-long pilot program with 10,000 farmers across Rwanda.
M-Ahwii engages the farmers through co-operative societies, and it has proved to be an instrumental platform for farmers. As far as quality market information pertaining the appropriateness of seeds, pesticides, and acaricides used. The platform also helps the farmers in marketing their produce.
The mobile-based query system also strives to answer farmers’ queries as prompt as possible. Uwintwali, the CEO of M-Ahwii Ltd says the service has become vital to agribusiness, and farmers using their services have seen a satisfying increase in their crop, meat, and milk production. So much so, that it is attracting more farmers to join the platform.
M-Ahwii currently operates as a toll-free service thanks to financial support from the United States Aid for International Development (USAID). However, there are plans to make the platform commercial as government support increases, where farmers will be charged on a pay-per-use basis.
“We have noticed that traffic is heaviest on issues surrounding market access, and we have been able to link them to the Rwanda Grains and the East Africa Commodities Warehouse who offer guaranteed prices for wheat and maize,” said Uwintwali as cited by the Daily Nation.
“Most farmers want to know about where to sell their farm produce and the prices on offer. We also provide linkages to banks, government extension, and insurance services. A farmer only needs any rudimentary phone and be within an area with a reliable network and all information is available at the click of a button.”
Uwintwali and company plan on commercializing M-Ahwii come August 2016 targeting farmers from across Rwanda. The company is increasingly receiving Rwandese government support, and it wants to leverage on this and roll out commercially nationwide.
Uwintwali says farmers using their platform enjoy the direct access they get to the Rwanda Cereal Grains Co-operative and the East African Grains Commodities Exchange warehouses.
“Farmers can now sell their produce directly to the warehouse without necessarily going through an agent, and this has given them an efficient market and guaranteed prices at the clique of a button,” adds Uwintwali.
While the platform provides farmers quality information about the markets in real-time, it also reduces the cost of travel and making phone calls on the part of the farmers. That leads to minimizing cost on the part of the farmers.