Heifer International has unveiled initiative that aims to deliver solutions to challenges faced by smallholder farmers.
Dubbed Digital Agriculture Champions (DAC), the project aims to deliver sustainable, cost-effective training modules for smallholder farmers in Kenya and Africa at large.
The organisation is advancing technology and mechanisation to address some of the post-pandemic challenges across different agricultural value chains in Africa.
Adesuwa Ifedi Senior Vice President Africa Programmes at Heifer International says the organisation is committed to mentoring the youth to become digital champions with entrepreneurship skills.
“Heifer is committed to catalysing ground-up engagement of the youth in agriculture. The initiative will foster the application of digital technology in agriculture, delivering solutions that address challenges faced by smallholder farmers at scale,” says Ifedi.
In accordance with this tech innovation drive, Heifer is working with Kuza Biashara, a digital social enterprise, as technical partner, to offer a bundled solution that provides personalised digital training and extension services to smallholder farmers in Africa.
The partnership with Kuza is a product of Heifer International’s AYuTe Africa Challenge, a competition that awards cash grants of up to $1.5 million annually to the most promising young Agri-technology innovators across Africa who are using technology to reimagine farming and food production.
The initiative will be geared towards empowering the front-line extension workers across multiple programmes of Heifer in Africa with a structured incubation model that promotes their businesses to scale, as a pathway to becoming agripreneurs building sustainable businesses.
Sriram Bharatam, Kuza’s founder says when you bring tools to partners together with a common, shared vision and values, you can create magic.
“The Digital Agriculture Champions will capitalise on the network effect by first running programmes that incubate young entrepreneurs, who then each engage approximately 200 households in rural communities, giving them the knowledge, tools, and networks needed to transform how they do business in a sustainable way, especially in agriculture,” he explains.
By creating an ecosystem comprising of mentors who provide emotional, functional, and technical support to micro-entrepreneurs, the Digital Agriculture Champions initiative aspires to drive a continental movement, providing a collective voice to millions of previously excluded youths.
Adesuwa says: “We are providing a comprehensive digital platform for the front-line extension workers, who we are referring to as Digital Agriculture Champions; to learn at their own pace, connect with their farmers and grow their agribusiness. We will mentor and handhold them through their journey from incubation to the growth stage via the Kuza OneNetwork platform.”