In the beautiful landscapes of Abim District, where challenges abound, farmers have long grappled with issues ranging from insecurity to a lack of digital skills. The remote nature of the area poses logistical challenges, making transportation a tedious task for both people and crucial agricultural inputs. This harsh reality encapsulates the daily struggles faced by those determined to cultivate the land.
Stella Rose Alungat, a 27-year-old young woman decided to take the first step to pioneer the digitilization of her community. Like many others, she embraced the Digital Economy Program in Abim district. The program is an innovative initiative, being implemented by Innovation Village and Mastercard Foundation with several other partners and aims to empower farmers through digital solutions while extending services to last mile communities.
Alungat assumes a central role in maintaining the digital agent network in Abim district. She is responsible for onboarding and training agents in biometric profiling, technology, and modern farming practices. These agents, equipped with the knowledge imparted by Alungat, subsequently extend the same training to farmers at the grassroots level. This process serves as a lifeline for those who have long aspired to access better opportunities in their rural community. “In the absence of digital tools, communication and coordination are challenging, making it difficult to address farmer needs promptly,” says Alungata. Her commitment to embracing digital tools stems from witnessing the struggles of farmers facing delays in receiving essential supplies, resulting in untimely planting and increased costs. The lack of real-time information exacerbates issues like market fluctuations and unfair pricing practices, leading to financial strain and unfavorable credit terms for the farmers.
Stella’s journey into digital empowerment began as a district coordinator for Agro Tourism, where her strong connections with farmer groups led her to Hamwe East Africa where she now works as the territory executive for Abim district. Initially leading a dynamic team of sixteen agents, she has overseen the profiling of over 4000 farmers at the district level. Through digital financial services and multiple other services offered on the Hamwe East Africa platform, she ensures fair pricing for farmers, enabling direct payments into their bank accounts and reducing the risks associated with handling cash.
Beyond technology, Stella’s role is about empowerment. She actively engages with different groups in her community, inspiring youths to embrace digital literacy and connecting them to opportunities provided by Hamwe East Africa under the Digital Economy Program. Her guidance motivates fellow youth to become active participants in the digital revolution reshaping their community. Alungat’s team of agents is not just about change; they are guiding farmers, imparting digital skills, and facilitating seamless farming processes. Technology is becoming a powerful ally in Abim, from purchasing inputs to accessing markets and sharing crucial seasonal and climate information. Stella serves as the vital link connecting Hamwe East Africa to shea nut farmers whose major source of income is agriculture. Her days are dedicated to collaborating with farmers, Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs), and agents, guiding the profiling process and ensuring necessary resources within the agricultural and shea nut value chain are accessible. Her impactful efforts have greatly instilled hope, fostering a stronger and more connected farming community in Abim.
Through digitalization, Abim farmers are experiencing a profound impact on their lives. Processes that were once manual and cumbersome are now streamlined, thanks to Stella’s guidance. Profiled Farmers can access real-time data, weather updates, and best practices, resulting in increased yields, improved incomes, and a brighter outlook for the entire community. As the digital revolution continues, more young individuals are joining the cause.
The Digital Economy Program’s journey in Abim district is far from over, but the strides made so far are evident. Dignified work is no longer a dream; it is a reality within arm’s reach and woven into the fabric of the community’s future. Alungat’s story is a testament to the power of digital technologies, the resilience of rural communities, and the commitment to creating dignified work for the youth. Together, they are nurturing a new era of prosperity, where digital tools and unwavering determination transform not only lives but entire communities.