The initiative will leverage exponential digital technologies as a key component in the design of signature programs covering 11 countries of Heifer’s operations in Africa.
By Murimi Gitari April 27, 2022
Heifer International has unveiled a Digital Agriculture Champions (DAC) initiative. The initiative will deliver sustainable, cost-effective training modules for smallholder farmers across Heifer Africa, starting with Kenya.
The nonprofit organization whose mission is to end global hunger and poverty is advancing technology and mechanization to address some of the post-pandemic challenges across different Agricultural value chains in Africa; investing in digital extension systems for training as a post-pandemic response strategy that will create efficient, scalable solutions for farmers and help boost the value chains in which they work.
Heifer is also committed to mentoring the youth who often constitute the extension staff, and is focused on empowering them to become digital champions with entrepreneurship skills to ensure quality services for farmers, and sustainable business models beyond the life of Heifer project interventions.
Speaking from Heifer Africa, region office, Senior Vice President Africa Programs Adesuwa Ifedi said Heifer is committed to catalyzing ground-up engagement of the youth in Agriculture. She added that the Digital Agriculture Champions initiative will foster the application of digital technology in Agriculture, delivering solutions that address challenges faced by smallholder farmers at scale.
“The idea for the AYuTe (Agriculture, Youth and Technology) Africa Challenge was conceived by Heifer based on four decades of work as a trusted partner of African farmers—and seeing first-hand the stark difference between local farms that have access to new technologies and those that do not,” she said.
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 personalized digital training and extension services to smallholder farmers in Africa.
Key highlights of the partnership
The partnership with Kuza is a product of Heifer International’s AYuTe Africa Challenge -a competition that awards cash grants of up to US$1.5 million annually to the most promising young Agri-technology innovators across Africa who are using technology to reimagine farming and food production across the continent. Kuza, though not emerging as winners, were top contenders with strong capacity and capabilities to deliver Heifer’s content digitization initiative, the Digital Agriculture Champions at scale.
The initiative will be geared towards empowering the front-line extension workers across multiple programs of Heifer in Africa with a structured incubation model that promotes their businesses to scale, as a pathway to becoming Agripreneurs building sustainable businesses.
“We are a strong believer in the fact that one plus one is 11. When you bring tools to partners together with a common, shared vision and values, you can create magic.” Kuza’s founder Sriram Bharatam explains.
“The Digital Agriculture Champions will capitalize on the network effect by first running programs 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 added.
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.
“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.” Adesuwa Ifedi said.