Category: Agriculture

  • Redefining Agriculture Extension

    Sean Paavo Krepp is Uganda Country Director and CKW Program Manager.

    Poverty reduction and agriculture are deeply linked in Africa. Most of the rural poor are engaged in some form of agriculture or agriculture related business, so transformation of the sector could be tantamount to transformation of society.

    One of the keys to changing the sector is access to and diffusion of knowledge on agriculture production and marketing. This is understood by governments but agriculture extension systems have been under resourced and under equipped to fulfill their...

    Read more
  • Building Our Strength One CKW at a Time

    Fiona Byarugaba is Programme Management and Communications Officer, CKW at Grameen Foundation Uganda.

    Samson Sabiiti Olet’s goat was suffering from a disease unknown to him. In a state of panic, Samson met his village Community Knowledge Worker, or CKW, telling him that the goat’s body was covered in “white dots.” After the CKW looked at the goat, he opened his phone, and within seven minutes had discovered that Samson’s goat was affected by ticks. Once Samson – a farmer from Oyam district, Adagayella village – started following the CKW’s advice about how to...

    Read more
  • Attitude Change Is a Slow Process but Vital for Rural Communities to Adopt New Technologies

    Hosea S. Katende is Training Coordinator, CKW program,  at Grameen Foundation’Uganda 

    Resources, both human and financial, are   being committed to reaching the bottom-of-the-pyramid communities. To contribute to this cause, Grameen Foundation’s AppLab Uganda came up with the Community Knowledge Worker initiative. An information and communications technology-driven model to accelerate knowledge and information uptake by rural farmers as part of its mission to reach out to the poor, especially the poorest, the CKW project builds a network of peer-nominated...

    Read more
  • From Subsistence Farmer to Commercial Farmer

    Benson Okech is Accountant, at Grameen Foundation Uganda.

    When one is traveling to the Rwenzori area, what rings in the mind of the  individual are the cascading waterfalls from the peak of Mt. Rwenzori and the presence of several species of wild animals in the national parks in western Uganda. There also are other breaking stories about this area, including a group of poor farmers who are helping others like themselves improve their livelihoods by expanding access to accurate, timely information.

    Zangura Ibrahim has been a subsistence farmer for several...

    Read more
  • Power for CKWs in Uganda

    Chris Smith and Gillian Evans are a husband and wife team volunteering in Uganda with Grameen Foundation through our Bankers without Borders® volunteer initiative.

    As part of its Mobile Agriculture initiative, which leverages the power of the mobile phone to help fight “information poverty” among poor, rural farmers, Grameen Foundation has deployed more than 850 Community Knowledge Workers (CKWs) across Uganda in 20 districts, serving almost 62,000 farmers. Our CKWs use simple Huawei IDEOS smart phones that cost about $80 and run the Android software...

    Read more
  • The Cloud for Africa

    Luke Kyohere is Senior Technology Manager, at Grameen Foundation Uganda

    Over the past year and a half, Sean Krepp, Grameen Foundation’s Uganda Country Director, and I have been thinking a lot about what we’ve termed “The cloud for Africa”. This has been a central tenet during all our architectural planning over this period: how do we create services that are cloud based and easy to scale horizontally, but also work in Africa where connectivity & coverage are intermittent and energy & money are scarce.

    We’ve taken strategic steps to move our services to the...

    Read more
  • Stories from the Field: What do our Community Knowledge Workers do?

    Edward Chelangat is CKW Field officer in Kapchorwa Uganda,at Grameen Foundation Uganda

    John Mamosogo is a farmer from Tangwen parish, Kabeywa subcounty,  Rumasaki village, who farms coffee as a business. His CKW is Tabitha Solimo whom he refers to as madam in the story. When I visited him, on August 8, 2011 he told me the following about CKW work and coffee farming:

    “I had a friend called Ben who knows madam [CKW Tabitha Solimo], when we were walking together, he told me he was going to check something in the internet. I asked him where is the internet? He...

    Read more
  • Think gardening is hard? Try farming.

    Heather Thorne Matthews is the Director of Information and Communications Technology Innovation at the Grameen Foundation’s Technology Center.

    When I was in Uganda about a month ago, I spent 2 days living in a village with one of our CKWs, Simon, and saw first-hand how the farmers we are serving through the CKW program live.  Simon is featured in the video below where he explains the Community Knowledge Worker program to one of his fellow farmers.

    I understood that life was hard for our CKWs and their neighboring farmers, but it really hit me after doing...

    Read more
  • A Weekend with Simon Obwoya, Community Knowledge Worker

    Heather Thorne Matthews is the Director of Information and Communications Technology Innovation at the Grameen Foundation’s Technology Center.

    I spent a weekend in early May with Simon Obwoya, one of Grameen Foundation’s Community Knowledge Workers, near Opit, Lalogi Subcounty, about 50km south-east of Gulu in Northern Uganda.  Simon is 43, and is married, with 8 children, ranging from 6 months old to 19 years old.  He and his family have 3 simple thatch-roof, mud brick huts in close proximity to their neighbours. They have no electricity, but have a bicycle,...

    Read more
  • Building a Power Company that Serves the Rural Poor

    Sean Paavo Krepp is Uganda Country Director and CKW Program Manager.

    Building a power company that serves the rural Ugandan poor is a tall order.  Rural small holder farmers may live miles from the nearest road or power line.  Access to steady power, something we take for granted, is a fundamental concern for the rural poor as they seek to charge their phones or study at night.  Recently we’ve been fortunate to work with Mike Lin, an American entrepreneur and founder of the renewable energy company Fenix International. Fenix is a different kind of power...

    Read more
  • The CKW Project is Going Strong and Reaching for Higher Ground

    Listening to the farmers we serve and the partners we work with, we have over the first 10 months of the CKW program consistently received feedback in the line of; “this is a great program but can we have more?” For instance; the farmers, often echoed by partners in the field ask for more accurate and actionable information, CKWs ask for better presented and digestible information such that they have an easier time explaining it to farmers while partners ask for a variety of options to reach more farmers. We are glad to reveal that in the next few months, we will...

    Read more
  • The Community Knowledge Worker Platform

    For those of you who are frequent readers of the AppLab blog you will have seen quite a few references to the Community Knowledge Worker program.  We think of the CKW program as providing a human, technology and data analytics platform for socially minded organizations seeking to reach small holder farmers.  Heather Thorne, Director of ICT Innovation and Applab, breaks down how CKW provides each platform: 

    • First, it offers a human platform, introducing known, trusted points-of-presence in the village who serve as a two-way distribution channel for...
    Read more
  • The Difference a CKW Makes

    Lydia Namubiru is Partnership Analyst, CKW program, at Grameen Foundation Uganda.

    For a long time, Charles Mukonyi of Gamatui parish in Kapchorwa had a problem with his chickens – the hens died off soon after hatching new ones. Three months ago, he was visited by his neighbor Tabitha Salimo who told him that she had a phone that has huge amounts of agricultural knowledge to answer many of the problems farmers face. Naturally, the first thing Charles asked about was the hen problem. Tabitha checked her phone and informed Charles that his hens were likely to be...

    Read more
  • Simple mobile tools to combat fake agricultural inputs

    Whitney Gantt is Partnerships Manager, CKW program, at Grameen Foundation Uganda.

    Poor farmers in Uganda routinely struggle with access to agricultural inputs, such as fertilizer and improved seed varieties, that would boost their crop yields.  Access to improved inputs is one of the highest impact scenarios for improving farmer productivity.  In the right context, the application of fertilizer can significantly increase  yields, by up to 300% – which means the potential to triple income.

    Two of the chief constraints for a smallholder farmer to buy these...

    Read more
  • How much can I get for my coffee?

    Jason Hahn is Business Development Manager ICT Innovation, at Grameen Foundation Seattle.

    As readers of this blog know, Grameen Foundation’s AppLab is building a network of Community Knowledge Workers (CKWs) in Uganda.  These CKW’s,  equipped with mobile phones and customized agricultural apps, bridge the last mile of agricultural extension work.  Below you will find the story of farmer Michael Kipsang’s experience working with his local CKW and we answered his coffee question. Thanks to Edward Chelangat, one of our field officers in Uganda, for passing...

    Read more
  • You still need to work in groups – even if you have a mobile phone!

    We have found that our Community Knowledge Workers (CKWs), much like the farmers they work with, often enjoy learning and sharing in a group setting.  While our model of information dissemination depends on mobile phones they don’t replace the help and support a good group can give to its members.

    In the photo at left, taken on March 9th in Kapting parish, Binyiny subcounty, Uganda the discusion revolved around creating a model farmer network, following up and getting feedback from farmers on CKW services, managing CKW challenges while at work and timely...

    Read more
  • Partnering with the community is important!

    Whenever AppLab launches a new project or  begins offering services in a new place we do it in full cooperation with the community.  This might mean using our rapid iterative in-community process of software design to build user centered software or in the case of the Community Knowledge Worker (CKW) model mean using meetings with the community and local authorities to build buy-in and knowledge about the CKW program.

    While the positive effects of partnering with the community are many we realized a very practical effect over the past few days.  Gwoktoo...

    Read more
  • How did James Amadi benefit from his local Community Knowledge Worker?

    Edward Chelangat is CKW Field Officer Kapchorwa , at Grameen Foundation Uganda. 

    “James Amadi is a farmer who uses CKW services.  He has benefited from coffee tips and price information.  His coffee trees are green in a dry season largely because of following CKW advice on manure application.  James also said the CKW has helped him identify diseases in his coffee plantation, for example leaf rust which he though it was coffee berry disease. He sprayed orious fungicide which cleared it off.”

    Read more
  • A few tweaks in the CKW intervention can deliver more impact to farmers

    Lydia Namubiru is Partnership Analyst, Community Knowledge Worker program, at Grameen Foundation Uganda.

    Samuel Olara’s chickens were getting weak and sleepy. He feared they had caught something that would kill them and he didn’t know how to save them. Fortunately, he knew someone who might know. He walked 2 kms to the local CKWs’ home to consult on chicken diseases and their treatments. The CKW in turn consulted his phone and advise Olara to treat his chicken with soda ash. They quickly recovered and were doing well three weeks later when a Grameen...

    Read more
  • Engendering our Work in Uganda

    After we launched our Community Knowledge Worker (CKW) network in Uganda, I was reviewing a budget report and came across a “babysitting” entry. Thinking this must be an obvious mistake, I contacted our local finance person for an explanation. I discovered that we did pay for babysitting as some of the CKWs we were training were mothers who would not have been able to participate unless we paid for child care. It makes perfect sense now and is a good example of a practical step you can take to ensure that women and men access your programs.

    At Grameen...

    Read more
  • A Day in The Life of a (Female) Community Knowledge Worker

    Whitney Gantt is ICT Innovation Technical Program Officer, at Grameen foundation Uganda.

    Right now we’re in a planning phase—which ultimately means we’re wrestling with the “big” challenges that become even more significant at scale.  We’re building partnerships to begin recruiting Community Knowledge Workers (CKWs) in early 2010 and that has me thinking about one of those challenges: how do we ensure that female farmers have an equal opportunity to participate as CKWs and that they have the same access to services offered through the CKW channel?

    In the...

    Read more
  • Agriculture and Mobile Phones Come Together With Our Community Knowledge Worker Project in Uganda

    Eric Cantor is Director, Grameen Foundation Uganda.

    Last week in Uganda I was fortunate to attend a meeting in Busano subcounty, Mbale district, with some of the Community Knowledge Workers  (CKWs) – local farmer leaders empowered with mobile applications to improve the livelihoods of their communities by distributing and collecting relevant information about agriculture – and their clients, the smallholder farmers we all seek to benefit.  There was a lively discussion of the pros and cons of a variety of information services we have been testing nearby.  One...

    Read more