We talked to Christine Kihunde Kiiza, Co-Founder of Jaguza Tech U Ltd, about a system that helps farmers with their problems, especially those who are socially and economically disadvantaged. This is what she said:
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Christine Kihunde Kiiza: My family and I are doing well. It was, of course, not easy at the beginning of the pandemic, but now by God’s grace, we have learnt to manage it. Everybody in the family is aware of the virus and is very conscious to observe the steps set by our ministry of Health.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Jaguza.
Christine Kihunde Kiiza: I am a married, God fearing lady, hardworking and openminded, I love learning and venturing into new things and an accountant by profession.
I joined Afrosoft IT Solutions Ltd, which at the time was working on Jaguza Livestock App. During the course of business, I got interested in the innovation, later became a co-founder and later registered it as an independent company.
Many people in Africa, especially in Uganda, own at least a cow, goat, chicken, or pig, whereby many have made it their livelihood amidst various challenges such as disease outbreaks, market & veterinary service inaccessibility and much more. Therefore, I believe that with the adoption of Jaguza Livestock system, many farmers shall have improved lives once adopted. I was privileged to participate in the CTA Pitch Agrihack Competitions 2019 held in Accra, Ghana and emerged the best prize in the mature stage category in the whole of Africa. Since then, I have been part of many livestock programs geared at digitalising agriculture.
How does Jaguza innovate?
Christine Kihunde Kiiza: We innovate by employing an online and offline livestock management system focused on empowering livestock production to strengthen food security using machine learning, the internet of things, and big data. We employ Jaguza Livestock Mobile App (both android and iOS) in seven different languages. The App has very interesting modules that help farmers access our services in real-time. It has a market module where farmers can view real-time market prices for livestock products and farm equipment. They, too, can open up a product store, upload and sell their products.
The Jaguza Livestock App provides farming tips for all livestock, disease information, and a self diagnosis module where a farmer enters signs and symptoms observed on an animal. The app gives the likely disease plus reference to our online vets that can handle the problem.
There is no need to be caught unaware of the climate. Our app gives farmers a 17days weather update to help them plan ahead of unfavourable weather. The “My Farm” module is where a farm owner can register all his animals, farm activities, expenses and income at all production stages. As Jaguza, we understand that many farmers in rural areas do not have smartphones or internet. Therefore, we also have a USSD Code and SMS platform where farmers can access our services. Our farm record management system is also offline to help rural farmers keep their records.
Under IoT, we employ sensor technology that uses machine learning and data science to detect diseases in animals 48 hours before they manifest using parameters of temperature, heart rate, breathing and stress levels. We employ drone technology on farms with big herds of cattle to monitor and solar GPS to track animals around the farm.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Christine Kihunde Kiiza: Like many businesses, the pandemic found us unprepared for it. We had planned a lot of fieldwork and trips to acquire more devices, but all this could not happen as there was limited movement in and outside the country.
However, the pandemic created more relevancy for our market module. This is because farmers still wanted to sell their products online, and customers were still in need of these products. We had to form a customer care center to handle the calls and help people access our online services. We also had to create more jobs (sales delivery). Therefore, the pandemic became a blessing in disguise.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Christine Kihunde Kiiza: Definitely, choices had to be made in order to keep business going. We had to set priorities and redirect our resources on modules that would help the company stay in business. We learned to continually study the market and follow the trends to keep relevant on the dynamic global market.
What specific tools, software and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Christine Kihunde Kiiza: We have employed strategic planning along all our departments to allow coordination and uniform results. We are also majorly employing our website, social media platforms, USSD & SMS plus Mobile App for information decimation, online vets & by extension workers to handle farmers’ queries.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Christine Kihunde Kiiza: Our competitors are E-Farm in Uganda and Daral Technologies in Senegal. Our system is both online and offline, and we use IoT devices and have a farm record system, marketplace, which gives us an upper hand over our competitors. Our team is also in-house, passionate about what they do, and innovative and open to learning new technologies to keep competitive.
Your final thoughts?
Christine Kihunde Kiiza: We believe that our Jaguza Livestock System can help many livestock farmers improve their productivity and also earn from their sweat. What is more interesting, Jaguza is ready and willing to learn from farmers experiences and challenges in order to serve them better, which makes Jaguza Livestock System worth having.
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