The Fruits of Knowledge

Armed with a smartphone, Alice Lunkuse is helping poor farmers improve their families' lives

Until a few months ago Alice Lunkuse was a housewife, who grew a few crops to help support her family. Today, farmers in her community seek her out for advice on how to deal with pests and help improve their crops and livestock.

Alice is a Community Knowledge Worker and part of a growing network of more than 1,000 trusted local advisors dedicated to helping poor farmers across Uganda produce more food and earn more money for their families.

The Community Knowledge Workers are all farmers themselves who are nominated by others based on factors such as past leadership experience and willingness to serve the community.  They receive a loan for a “business-in-a-box,” which includes an Android smartphone, solar charging station, weighing scale and marketing material. They use an app on their smartphones to access the information farmers need.

In her first three months as a Community Knowledge Worker, Alice immediately saw positive changes for her family. In addition to the money she earns dispensing advice to farmers, she also gets a steady income (approximately $1.40 per day) from using her solar charger to power mobile phones for others in the community. Equally important, the solar charging system is helping her to save money. She can charge her personal phone herself for free and she no longer needs to buy kerosene for lighting. The lamp on the charger provides enough light for her house.

The increased income and access to information has also helped Alice improve her own farm. She used information on pest and disease control to reduce the amount of banana weevils and banana wilt on her crops and expects to see an even bigger harvest this season. She was also able to buy a second pig for her own farm.  “I now look forward to have my pig grow, produce more pigs, sell some and be able to meet school requirements for my children,” she said.

Alice is proud of her new status in the community and noted, “Farmers appreciate the availability and nearness of agricultural information and wish they had more Community Knowledge Workers in their community.”

Since 2010, Grameen Foundation’s Community Knowledge Worker initiative has helped to connect 176,000 poor farmers across Uganda to vital knowledge and limitless entrepreneurial opportunities. Give today to help even more farmers reach their full potential.