Biddemu Bazil Mwota is dedicated to helping small farmers in under-developed countries thrive. Through a remarkably simple communications tool that utilizes low-cost SMS telecommunications, Bazil enables them to avoid exploitation, while solving two massive age-old problems: unfair trade practices and unequal wealth distribution.
It all started when Bazil, one of the British Commonwealth Queens Young Leaders 2018 award recipients, realized that the same produce farmed in his Ugandan village of Katiiti Mpigi sold in Kampala at significantly higher prices. “Farmers could hardly obtain the right value for their labour,” thought Bazil. So he harnessed mobile technology to connect farmers directly with buyers, thereby cutting out the middle man.
Talk about disruptive! But in all the right ways.
His grassroots start-up, AgroDuuka, has developed a mobile platform that links farmers directly to potential buyers. First, the AgroDuuka team keeps member-farmers up-to-date on the fair market price of their agricultural products. Then, when they're ready to harvest their crop, they need only send a message through the AgroDuuka contact line, saying, for example, “I have a sac of cassava to sell at 130,000 Ugandan shillings (UGX).” AgroDuuka connects the farmer with a buyer willing to pay that amount. Farmer and buyer take it from there.
In a more typical transaction, a middle man will buy the cassava from the farmer at a greatly reduced price, say 60,0000 UGX, then sell it to potentially the same Kampala shop keeper at 130,000 UGX — the real market value — earning a 50% commission. AgroDuuka takes only 10%. The difference between 70,000 and 13,000 UGX stays where it should — with the farmer!
Thanks to AgroDuuka, Ugandan farmers can now sell their produce to the right buyer at the right price and make a profit. They also have more time as they no longer need to travel to markets to sell their wares at below-market rates. If you’ve ever seen a barefooted man pushing an old bicycle loaded down with freshly harvested matoke up and down hill after hill just to get to market, you’ll understand what “time” in Uganda really means!