New smartphone technology for agri-business goes countrywide

New technology to help Rwanda’s private fertiliser traders to develop efficient and competitive fertiliser procurement and distribution systems has been extended to all sectors across the country.

New technology to help Rwanda’s private fertiliser traders to develop efficient and competitive fertiliser procurement and distribution systems has been extended to all sectors across the country.

With funding from Usaid, the International Fertiliser Development Centre (IFDC) was introduced in March 2013, to help fertiliser importers, distributors and retailers monitor and manage trade and sales.

Using smart phones equipped with the mFarms application, agro-dealers are able to record all supplies bought from distributors and all sales to customers and calculate their remaining stocks.

The technology was piloted among 49 agro dealers in three districts of Eastern Province, which are; Rwamagana, Kayonza and Gatsibo and three districts of Western Province; Ngororero, Rubavu and Nyabihu.

Rolling out the second phase of the project, yesterday in Kigali, it was disclosed that each sector will have one agro-dealer using the technology.

With this application, an agro dealer will be able to deliver daily reports to the Ministry of Agriculture on things to do with fertilisers.  

Claudine Mushimiyimana, an agro-business dealer from Kayonza District who has used the application since its introduction last year, said mFarms technology has helped her to reduce losses by 50 per cent.

“I am now also able to supply fertilisers to farmers on time since I can easily access my records. It is easy to process the information and submit my report to the Agriculture ministry on time,” she noted.

She explained that she reduced the losses because she can restock in time whenever old stock runs out.

The Director General of Planning at the Agriculture ministry, Raphael Rurangwa, said the project is part of wider efforts to further develop farming business.

“This is another step forward for our problem-solving process in agricultural sector. These agribusiness dealers are becoming independent and good partners instead of always depending on the ministry. They can now order for fertilisers from the comfort of their homes without coming to the central distribution office in Kigali,” he said.

He added that the technology will help reduce time and cost of surveying on the fertiliser distribution in the whole country. Reports that usually took six months will now be delivered in only one week, he said.

Jean Marie Vianey Maniraho, who was offered a telephone at the function, yesterday, said he has been saved the burden of ordering fertilisers from the ministry.

The representative of IFDC, Martin Drevon, said the project had been rolled out countrywide after successful pilot study.

“IFDC is happy to work with the Ministry of Agriculture to increase agricultural production through information technology. We are sure this project’s results will positively impact the sector,” he said.   

The five-year mFarm project is funded by Usaid at tune of $ 7 million (about Rwf4.7bn), with $ 224,500 expected to be spent this year alone.

 

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