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I have always wanted to contribute to improvement of the agricultural distribution channel by giving farmers in my community fair prices, and helping to reduce the devastating post-harvest losses they face due to lack of access to profitable markets. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would be able to establish a venture with the limited resourcesI had, as I always believed that I would first need to access funding before I could start.However, in 2018, I started by conducting research on understanding the challenges that local farmers face and I discovered that one of their biggest concerns was indeed access to profitable markets. My idea of helping the farmers through digitalizing agriculture led me to found Fastmere, which is an offline technology that farmers can use to stay informed about market prices and to enable them to sell their produce. Fastmere was launched and self-funded in a period of much uncertainty during the COVID-19pandemic, when many shops were closed, and people needed alternative access to food due to the lockdown. I reached out to the farmers who were in my research and realized they too were in dire need of alternative market during this time.
The model for Fastmere, was to introduce farmers to an offline technology that they could use to access market prices and sell their products. In this platform, farmers will not be constrained by the need to access internet or will not require the use of a smartphone. Fastermere also provide san online market platform where small-scale and large-scale consumers can buy affordable produce from the farmers, irrespective of location as we also offer delivery services. In addition to this, we provide cold rooms to store the perishable agricultural produce and we collaborate with logistic companies to coordinate transportation of the produce from the smallholder farmers.Payment is processed via mobile money, of which is both, accessible and affordable to smallholder farmers.
Fastmere has managed to launch the online buying platform for consumers to buy fresh produce, establish a walk-in grocery shop used as a storage unit and a distribution point, which is located in Ntindain Kampala, Uganda. Our biggest challenge thus far is accessing investments in order to scale-up Fastmere. Our goal is to market the platform on a larger scale therefore reaching more farmers to increase produce for sale. I am hopeful that I will be able to access funding and private investors in order to create a reliable distribution channel that is both affordable to consumers and profitable to farmers.It has been exciting to already see how much of an incredible impact Fatmere already has had in the community thus far.
Moreen Maria Ndagire (Uganda)
Student at EARTH UniversityFounder of Fastmere
July 2020–AL for Agribusiness Network
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