Farmers locked out of supply chain system due to lack of adequate IT skills

Monday February 25 2019


Official figures indicate that around 1.2 million farmers have been registered in the Smart nkunganire system.Photo | Cyril NDEGEYA 

Limited skills on the functions of the Smart Nkunganire System — a supply chain management system built to digitalise the end-to-end value chain of the Agro-Input Subsidy programme — has locked out many farmers from using it.

As farmers in different parts of the country are urged to register with the system and start using it for placing orders of agro-input, many farmers have been locked out of the system due to lack of basic IT skills.

According to government officials, as farmers prepare for season B 2019, only 700 out of 1.2 million of those registered have so far managed to update their information in the system about which crops they plan to grow, their land size and the agro-inputs needed.

The government plans to make the platform the only access for agro-inputs.

This has seen some farmers in different parts of the country reluctant to get the system, while others find it difficult to use the system or even key in incorrect information when placing orders for their agricultural inputs for season A, which is due to come to an end this week.

“We have registered with the system, but we are still using the previous system to order agro-inputs.

The phone-based Smart Nkunganire System has yet to be applied here,” said Isaac Nzabirinda, an Irish potato farmer in Musanze district. He added that farmers are still used to the “Twigire Muhinzi” — a decentralised farmer agricultural extension and advisory services delivery, which was manual system.

This new system requires them to access it through their mobile phones.

The government introduced the Smart Nkunganire System as a way of unlocking lending for the sector as it would ensure farmers comply with recommended best farming practices — such as quality and quantity of agro-inputs — which would result in higher quantity and better quality of harvests.

According to government officials, farmers were supposed to start using the system during this farming season. However, agronomists say adoption of the system has been hampered by inadequate training of farmers.

According to the government official figures, the scheme intended to cover over two million farmers countrywide. However, official figures show that around 1.2 million farmers have been registered in the system.

“Last season was the pilot phase which provides training on the system,” said Egide Gatari, the agricultural inputs subsidies programme manager at the Rwanda Agriculture Board.

Farmers locked out of supply chain system due to lack of adequate IT skills.