Packaged weather alerts, agronomic tips, and crop insurance marketed to smallholders
In March 2017, the MUIIS Service launched in Uganda after a strong effort from local developers, farmer outreach agents, and international data providers. aWhere is proud to be one of the data partners in the MUIIS project, contributing to the agronomic design of the system and supplying weather data to fuel its regular updates. We started work on the MUIIS project in September of 2015, and our team has visited Uganda multiple times to work with on the ground partners in developing the service.
MUIIS – short for Market-Led, User-Owned, ICT4Ag-Enabled Information Service – is a package deal combining SMS agronomic tips and weather-indexed insurance into a single product. Subscribing farmers receive pre-season tips to help them prepare their fields using best practices. Once the planting season begins, the MUIIS system uses real-time satellite data provided by partners like aWhere to evaluate each farmer-customer’s field for risk, based on crop, weather, and growth stage. Farmers whose fields are forecast to have adverse weather conditions, or which are identified as at risk for performing poorly based on agronomic metrics, are sent customized alerts warning them of the danger and recommending actions.
Subscribing farmers also receive a crop insurance policy covering their season’s production. Unlike traditional crop insurance, where damages are assessed and payouts approved through site visits by agents, MUIIS insurance is weather-indexed. This means that payouts are approved based on satellite data readings on the weather experienced at the farmer’s field. This eliminates the need for expensive site visits to farmer fields, which are particularly costly when farms are located in hard-to-reach areas.
Together, these two components of the MUIIS product give farmers the information they need to make climate-smart farm decisions, and confidence that if their crop fails, they will be compensated.
As the climate grows more volatile across the globe, new services and initiatives like MUIIS are key mechanisms for helping farmers adapt. Unfortunately, many such initiatives stop operating after a few years or less, especially if they are funded solely through donors or international organizations. MUIIS, meanwhile, is committed to developing a self-sustaining, profit-based business model, to ensure that farmers continue to receive the notifications and insurance they need, well after donor funding has expired. Through its discussions with regional experts and stakeholders, aWhere, through its work on MUIIS, learned about the importance of providing a service that farmers value and are willing to pay for. Without continued buy-in from farmers, any service will inevitably be unsustainable.
Stay involved by following MUIIS on Twitter, and read up on the recent deployment of the service bundle. Like any new product, MUIIS has a lot of room to grow and learn over the coming seasons, and we are excited to see the evolution of this important initiative.
 In the MUIIS insurance product, payouts are linked to a variable called relative evapotranspiration, provided by MUIIS partner EARS (ears.nl). This variable acts as a measure of drought on the farmer’s field.