Building the ICT infrastructure of MUIIS for SMS delivery

Originally written on Wednesday, 21 December 2016

The development of MUIIS technology suite involves a team of technology, communication, data, agronomy and extension experts working together to create a package of bundled services enabled by ICTs. The bundled information services (agronomic, weather and insurance) will be delivered to targeted customers through different delivery channels.

SMS is the principal delivery channel, but other avenues such as USSD, IVR, and Call Centres are possible as the services develop. The main delivery platform will be through Ensibuuko’s MOBIS platform, which will enable the provision of weather data, agricultural tips, financial services, and possibly market information into a single, comprehensive mobile phone-based bundle.

Personalised automated message alerts will be provided to farmers. The content will be practical farming advice (e.g. related to pests occurring, or best planting season, etc.) which is based on available weather forecasts, soil composition forecasts (early drought warning), climate data, tips and weather data. The diagram below represents a simplified structure for the team working together for precise information to be delivered to farmers.

The MUIIS platform will send alerts to subscribing farmers based on the specific conditions on their field, calculated with the high-resolution satellite weather and agronomic data provided by data partners.

aWhere platform which is external to MUIIS will integrate structured data sets as needed from eLEAFEARSMercy CorpsAGRA and itself to optimise and define specific information services for farmers.

Agronomic data enabled by satellite images from profiled farmers’ fields are provided by eLEAF. This data goes to aWhere Platform which integrates it with its own weather data. Using the farmer profiles generated through the MUIIS Service Agents (MSAs), Ensibuuko pulls precise weather and agronomic data through aWhere’s API. The combined weather and agronomic data are from aWhere are made available to a team of Agronomists with the leadership of the AGRA through the National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO). The team of Agronomists with expert knowledge on the commodities and the ground situation in Uganda, analyse and validate the final content. Once the data is interpreted and validated by the team of agronomist, messages are crafted with support from Extension Specialists based on the profiles of farmers and also on the format to be prescribed by Ensibuuko.

A Minimum Viable Product (MVP) which will allow MSAs and farmers to sign up and pay for MUIIS agronomic and weather information and insurance services via SMS, share customer payment records with insurance company, send agronomic messages over SMS to paid customers is expected by the end of December 2016. The training of the MSAs on the concept of the MVP has been carried out in November-December 2016 with Demo of existing MOBIS server. It is expected that testing of the MVP will be done early 2017 to make the products ready for subscription by farmers at the start of the farming season in February/March 2017.

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