"Supposing doesn't fill the grain basket; if doesn't fill the larder." This African proverb sends an equivocal message - to see a change, we must act.
For as long as she can remember, Martha Muthoni, a dairy farmer in Kenya has been using a wood-burning stove at her simple processing unit to pasteurize milk. Martha says it hurt each time she used a lot of wood to heat milk--being an environmentalist, she always knew she should be preserving trees.
Desirous for change, she took to the internet in search of cleaner alternatives--and that is where she was pleasantly surprised. She came across EBAgroPamoja, a first-of-its-kind online application accessible both as a desktop and a mobile app, that connects gaps to solutions along the entire agricultural value chain.
About two months ago, youths in Kenya, guided through the UN Environment EBAFOSA Innovative Volunteerism Inclusive Framework, developed a climate change action by creating an online application that facilitates cross-disciplinary collaborations to maximize productivity of agricultural value chains using environmental solutions.
The EBAgroPamoja app's basic premise is that challenges are disguised opportunities for solution bearers--but that these two polar opposites must be brought together. EBAgroPamoja app was designed to become that bridge, connecting challenges with solutions, along the agricultural value chain.
It unlocks a holistic dimension, linking agriculture to ancillary areas--specifically climate solutions of clean energy to power value addition; transport and logistics to link efficiently to markets; consumer niche markets among climate, health and environmentally conscious consumers; and training to retool skills among people, especially youth, to engage in these interrelated areas.
Cumulatively, this holistic paradigm aims to reverse postharvest losses--amounting to US$500 million in Kenya--convert them into food secure homes and enterprise opportunities across multiple sectors, all without adding onto emissions and degrading the environment.
This is what Muthoni tapped into. At the comfort of her phone, she was able to locate an affordable biogas actor and start plans to green her milk processing--something she had always wanted. "I was looking for an expert to construct a biodigester at my farm. The app linked me to someone," she says. It was the first time that Muthoni went into a contract with a real supplier through a mobile app. And with this, the biogas vendor also got a market to keep his enterprise going.
What it takes
A major highlight has been EBAgroPamoja's app development--where youths in their twenties, Steffi Maingi and Gideon Kitili, driven by passion and an ambition to make their skills count, were structurally guided within the framework of Innovative Volunteerism to leverage their skills in marketing, clean energy, and information and communication technology to come up with this novel tool. This was accomplished by leveraging on skills and talents of all experts involved, bringing together these youth and substantively guiding them to a game-changing solution for climate action and agricultural value chain continuum.
The inclusion of every citizen to participate in creating climate-based solutions that unlock enterprise opportunities is a game-changer for Africa's development under the planet's changing climate. Richard Munang, the UN Environment Regional Climate Change Coordinator, says the innovative volunteerism paradigm supports innovations that bridge a given gap of interest along the agricultural value chains through approaches that do not destroy the environment.
The EBagroPamoja app not only seeks to solve challenges along the agricultural value chain, he adds, but has also opened employment opportunities for youth.
Since its launch, EBAgroPamoja, itself developed and run by youth, has engaged service providers, most of them led by young people, across the value chain with assets in excess of US$50,000. Among them are providers of solar driers, biogas systems, solar fridges, solar irrigation and water harvesting solutions, engaged for value exchange.
"The EBAgroPamoja app is the first ever app to have been developed by youths that connect the dots across the entire agricultural value chain. This is great for youth wealth creation, as a young person in any part of Kenya can now through a computer or mobile phone use this app to start his or her own enterprise and get free guidance," says Munang.
EBagroPamoja is available on android through the google playstore and as a desktop application.