When COVID-19 hit Uganda and Rwanda, some farmers were in a stronger position than others to cope because they had a digital safety net to cushion the pandemic’s negative impacts. Operational since July 2019 in Uganda and August 2019 in Rwanda, the E-Granary mobile platform delivers economic and financial services to farmers. The mobile communication and payment system is a virtual space for brokering commercial partnerships and contracts between farmers, buyers, and input dealers, while connecting farmers with financial services at low transaction costs. In 2020, the project received additional funding for a medium- to long-term response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These funds have help producer organizations and their farmers access certified inputs on time, particularly financial services, and help grow the number of local farmer mobilizers, critical in helping E-Granary cascade technology and services to farmers.
As of December 2021, the project works with 116 maize and bean cooperatives; more than 53,000 people use E-Granary the platform, almost half of them women (31,000), achieving 106% of total farmer registration from the target of 50,000; and 5,940 farmers now have access to credit worth US$706,791, against the revised target of 11,700 farmers under a US$1.5 million portfolio, representing an achievement of 47% of the targeted portfolio and 51% of the number of farmers. The additional COVID funds alone allowed the project to promptly support 486 farmers in Uganda to access US$79,605 in total credit. These achievements have supported farmers to prepare for the next two major planting seasons and reduce post-harvest losses through better storage, while reducing side selling by farmers to meet the volume requirement under the supply contract with buyers. The funds also increased the capacity of call centers to supply E-Granary users with correct information and to supplement face-to-face training and e-extension.