YAP proposal #72: A mobile app to connect farmers (Narcisse Mbunzama Lokwa, Democratic Republic of Congo)

Mobile_Agribiz_photo

WHO ?

Mr. Narcisse Mbunzama Lokwa is serial award winning tech innovator. A 38 year old guy, he was born in Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He holds a BSc in computer science from Umea University in Sweden and has more than 7 year’s experiences in ICT4D, especially in Africa. Narcisse served a former central Africa coordinator for the project African Environment Outlook for youth at the United Nations Environment Programme. He’s a fellow of International Telecommunication Union, a social entrepreneur fellow of Unreasonable Institute – a Colorado based social enterprise incubator. He’s a winner of several ICT4D awards including the UN MDGs SUKUMA AFRIKA award 2010 and Nokia Open Innovation 2010. Narcisse is fluent in English, Swedish and French. He’s also a founder of Mobile Agribiz. Narcisse is based in Kinshasa, the Democratic republic of Congo and can be reached at 00243 82 69 32716.

WHAT ?

Mobile Agribiz is a web and SMS mobile application that helps farmers decide when and how to plant crops, and how to select the best crops for a given location using climate and weather data and connects them to the available market. It helps connect farmers to buyers, and helps them to obtain necessary information (e.g. weather, crop pricing) aggregates from different sources and skills (e.g. how to plant crops, how to use fertilizers).

Farmers can easily connect with customers by sending SMS with their phone number, information of goods, prices and quantity they are selling and this information are plotted into a map in our servers, enabling customers to see farmers information, good they are selling, quantity and their location and make a connection with farmers.

As a result of using Mobile Agribiz, farmers in the Congo improve their productivity, are empowered with new skills, increase their incomes by 40%, and enhanced food security and nutrition. Farmers realize immediate and significant benefits from our application.

WHY ?

The civil wars in the Democratic Republic of Congo have had a horrific impact on the country, killing 5.4 million of its citizens and leaving a legacy of poverty, hunger and disease. In 2005, the International Crisis Group estimated that over 1,000 people were dying every day from war- related causes, including disease, hunger and violence. Today, 80% of the population lives in extreme poverty, living on less than 50 pence a day, and more than 70% are undernourished.

Agriculture is a vital tool for achieving the MDG that calls for halving the share of people suffering from extreme poverty and hunger by 2015. About 80% of people in Congo live in rural areas, and of those, 87% are living in poverty and are dependent directly or indirectly on agriculture for their livelihoods. The poorest people living in rural areas are small-scale farmers and farm laborers who lack skills and access to agriculture information and available market. This results in their exploitation by middlemen who give them unfair prices for their goods and crops.

Farmers also have limited skills to conduct sustainable agriculture, resulting in reduced productivity and negative impacts on the environment. Thirdly, the markets are inaccessible for these farmers since they have little produce that can only be sold at the local markets or to brokers who buy it at throwaway prices. We decide to create Mobile agribiz as solution to the above problems and to improve the conditions of smallholders farmers.

How ?

Mobile Agribiz connects farmers, who make up 80% of Congo’s population, to vital agricultre information and links them to potential market (customers) via SMS and web to enable them to prepare, produce their crops effectively and sell their goods competitively.

To date we have over 5000 farmers that have effectively increased their income by 40% ( August, 2015). Most of farmers using Mobile Agribiz was small farmers with incomes estimate monthly at $100. The direct impact of Mobile Agribiz is that small farmers increase their revenues. Having more money means farmers will become able, for instance to acquire new sanitation system, to purchase solar panel and get access to green energy source instead of charcoal (wich is one of the primary causes of deforestation in DRCongo), to support the cost of education of children, to have access to health system, etc.

It has been proven that the project will impact farmers, their families , customers and lead to the rural development. Our goal is to have 15,000 farmers sign up in the application over the next 15 months, so that we can make a large impact.

We aim to scale also to other regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo since we have a geographical limitation. At, this stage we continue to evaluate the impact of Mobile Agribiz among farmers and the indirect impact in their communities. if we can have 30 farmers sign up in our system every day, which is possible with a strong marketing team, we can reach 15,000 farmers in around 12 months.

We use both qualitative and quantitative indicators to measure the success of Mobile Agribiz. In terms of qualitative measure we evaluate how the project Mobile Agribiz has impacted farmers revenues, farmers productivity and farmer’s living conditions since the project has been launched. With quantitative measures we measure the numbers of farmers that sign up in our application, the popularity of our application among farmers over the time.

The project has been selected by: Unreasonable Institute 2012

https://vimeo.com/47049362

https://vimeo.com/48822310

The $5000 will serve to cover :

– Technology refinement cost   $3000

– Legal and administrative cost    $1000

– Marketing cost                         $1000

Blogpost and picture submitted by Narcisse Mbunzama Lokwa (Democractic Republic of the Congo) – mbunzama[at]gmail.com

The content, structure and grammar is at the discretion of the author only.


This post is published as proposal #72 of “YAP” – our “Youth Agripreneur Project”.

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23 thoughts on “YAP proposal #72: A mobile app to connect farmers (Narcisse Mbunzama Lokwa, Democratic Republic of Congo)

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