"With the extra income, I can afford a better life for my family"
Meet Lydia, a Ugandan farmer and a Commission Agent of PlusPlus entrepreneur AgriNet. Lydia has been a maize farmer for many years. But it was not until she started working with AgriNet that she became successful and was able to provide for her family. Here she shares her story.
“I am Lydia Achieng, 27-year-old and from Osukuru subcounty, Kayoro village in Tororo district. I am married with two children, a boy and a girl, ages 10 and 8 respectively,” Lydia introduces herself. “I first started working with AgriNet as a farmer growing maize and soybean. Later, I even got recruited as an AgriNet Commission Agent to bulk produce from farmers”, she says.
AgriNet is a Ugandan social enterprise that started out by providing services to smallholder farmers to improve their agri-business. Using mobile phones, they advise farmers on the best time to sow, to fertilize and to harvest, to improve their yields. While working with these farmers, AgriNet saw a market opportunity in the growing demand for animal feed in Uganda and Kenya and started sourcing maize and soybeans from the farmers to process into animal feed. AgriNet now works with 20,000 farmers, from which they buy their produce at a fair price. They also still provide technical advice to farmers. AgriNet is partner of BID Capital Partners, who advises the company.
Better prices and higher yields
“Before AgriNet, I would harvest about 200-300 kgs of maize per acre”, Lydia remembers. “However, because I was a small-scale farmer, I would often sell for low prices to middlemen. Because these rates were so low, my total earnings from the harvest were not adequate to cover education costs for my children. Also, because I earned so little money, I could not afford to buy good quality inputs, like seeds and fertilizers, so my yields stayed small” says Lydia.
When she started partnering with AgriNet, Lydia got better prices for her produce. “AgriNet offered 100-200 Ugandan shilling (UGX) more per kg than middlemen did. Additionally, AgriNet gave me access to high quality seeds and fertilizers, leading my yields to increase to 500-600 kgs of maize per acre.” Double what she produced before.
“From my partnership with AgriNet, I received training on good farmer practices and my knowledge grew so much that I started helping other farmers as well. Based on this, I was recruited as a commission agent.” As a Commission Agent, Lydia now assists other farmers to also produce for AgriNet. She mobilizes the farmers, provides them with training and after harvest organizes the collection of their produce (maize and soy). She also makes sure the farmers get the right information and at the right time from AgriNet, checks the quality and quantity of each farmers’ produce and makes sure they are paid. For this work, she is paid a commission (fee) as compensation.
Better quality of life
“I was given UGX 2,250,000 to bulk one and a half tons of soybean at UGX 1,500 per kg, with a commission of UGX 50 per kilogram. From this, I was able to earn UGX 100, 000 in one day, something I had never been able to achieve as a farmer.” She and her husband have since used the extra income to plant an acre of soybean, which earns them UGX 900,000 per season and supplements their family revenue. “Because of our partnership with AgriNet, we always have a market to sell our produce. The extra income has enabled us to afford a better life for me and my family. I can send my children to better schools to ensure a bright future!”
You can now give 700 other Ugandan farmers like Lydia a hand with a loan to AgriNet. Click here for more information.