Agro-Fresh has joined the E-commerce business in Uganda with a purpose to shorten the agribusiness value chain linking small and large holder farmers to sell agro produce to final consumers whilst eliminating wholesale middlemen.
Straight from the farm to your door step – Agro-Fresh is tapping into the middles-class and low income earners market segment in a bid to make food access easy for Ugandans.
During the launch of their e-commerce web portal-www.agrofreshug.com, Musinguzi Laban, the CEO of Agro-Fresh revealed that they are currently working with over 200 small holder and 4 large holder farmers whose earnings since March 2020, were negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic shocks.
Dire reports of Ugandan farmers’ produced wasting-off made rounds in mainstream media between April and June this year during the pandemic lockdowns. The temporal shut-down of hotels, schools, food markets and business centers that consumed large amounts of their food paralyzed the demand chain leaving the food producers overwhelmed with wasted produce.
Even worse, restrictions on cross-border movements of cargo and food to regional partners like Kenya, South- Sudan, DRC and Rwanda during the same period cost Ugandan large scale farmers a fortune which led to inevitable prices cuts of over 80%. For instance, a bunch of matooke (green bananas) that costed Ugx 8,000 ($2.2) at the farm went for as low as Shs 1,500 ($ 0.5) during the lockdowns. It is such a dreadful experience that gave Musinguzi the idea to innovate a solution through the Agro Fresh e-commerce platform.
Besides the need to facilitate agribusiness, Musinguzi Laban says Agro Fresh is founded on fulfilling United Nations Sustainable Development Goal number two- SDG 2, to attain zero hunger by 2030. “How can Uganda be regarded as the regions food basket yet hunger related deaths still occur?” asserting that reshaping food access modalities is key to solve such a crisis.
The website includes both plant and meats ranging from beans, peas, matooke, yellow banana’s, onions, tomatoes, green paper, avocado, fish beef, liver and chicken. “We have a food catalogue whose items are well represented by every alphabetical order from ‘A-Z’ on the site” Musinguzi notes adding “And we have tried to keep our prices relatively similar to pre-existing ones so that we sustain the demand while promoting the adaptation of the e- platform.
Vincent Matsiko, the technical developer demonstrated to the media how to navigate the website which facilitates various payment modes including MTN and Airtel’s Mobile Money, Visa and MasterCard. Once on the site, one can add the cart all the agro items they need and will be eligible to a free delivery in Kampala or Wakiso should their order be higher than Ugx 35,000 (9.5$). He also commented on privacy and protection of consumer information and accounts given the existence of hackers and cyber security concerns.
Matsiko explained that, the Agro-Fresh platform has an end to end encryption and no third party will have access to customer e-wallets financial details. The system uses a One Time Password (OTP) code that prevents hackers from using previously logged in data.
A 2020 Heifer International report, states that the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted the incomes of an overwhelming majority— 97 percent — of small-scale farmers. More than 87 percent of those surveyed reported that their income has been cut in half since March 2020. Farmers who once earned an average of 100,000 shillings ($27) a month are now surviving on a mere $13.