CALL FOR BUSINESS PLAN PROPOSALS FOR THE UCC/RCDF GRANT FOR ENHANCING ICT ADAPTION, SERVICE DELIVERY, CONTENT AND DIGITAL SKILLS FOR SMALLHOLDER FARMERS

INTRODUCTION

Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) through the Rural Communications Development Fund (RCDF) has launched a call for business plan proposals to establish a collaboration on the implementation of key activities under a general thematic area of enhancing ICT adoption in agriculture among smallholder farmers.

Therefore, RCDF III programme sets aside resources to be utilised under a collaborative grant framework between UCC/RCDF and a suitable partner, some of these funds are available within the operational budget of financial year 2019/20 to implement activities related to; enhancing ICT adaption, service delivery and content for smallholder farmers.

BACKGROUND

Agriculture employs over 70% of Uganda’s population, of which the majority are youth and women. It is worth noting that over 70% of the farmers are smallholder farmers based in rural areas, whose operations are greatly affected by; climate change, digital divide, limited access to quality farm inputs, limited access to quality extension services among others. Studies show that appropriate application of ICTs can positively impact agricultural output by mitigating a number of bottlenecks along the agriculture value chain.  

A study conducted by Uganda Communications Commission in 2019 on the state of ICT4Agric Innovations in Uganda revealed the following challenges:

  • Agricultural content development and distribution to farmers remains uncoordinated. This has a negative impact on the quality of information farmers receive to make critical decisions.
  • Existing content was mostly text-based, and in English, yet the majority of farmers preferred content in their local languages, which is multi-formatted.
  • Majority of farmers and other value chain actors lacked knowledge and skills to harness the power of ICTs, especially their application of ICTs in monitoring and evaluation of the quality of service in the extension system and farm level processes.
  • Awareness and accessibility of Agricultural ICT innovations by farmers who need them was minimal.
  • Limited access to quality extension services, among others.

Based on the above facts, UCC/RCDF is seeking to collaborate with a suitably qualified applicant (partner or consortium of partners) with the requisite qualifications, resources, competencies and experience as per the eligibility criterion and statement of requirements as presented in this call.

The applicant shall address the challenges identified in the study of 2019 and other emerging challenges in developing an effective strategy to contribute to accelerated uptake of ICT4Agric innovations to enable farmers and sector value chain actors to overcome social-economic barriers. This multi-year effort will see RCDF offer financial support subject to availability of funds, partner performance and approved partner project annual work plans. 

The project activities are broadly in three main phases.

PHASE ONE (Year 1) should focus on the development of an innovative digital platform that will integrate extension workers, smallholder farmers, input and output providers while ensuring all the different stages of the agricultural value chain are considered for farmer benefit. During this phase, the partner unit or co-applicant whichever case may be with demonstrated ICT competences shall be expected to take the lead during the development and role out of the digital platform.

PHASE TWO (year 2) will largely focus on content development and establishment of innovative and effective content delivery mechanisms and skilling farmers and other value chain actors in selected value chains. The phase will also enhance uptake and usability of outputs in phase one. 

PHASE THRESS (year 3) in principle, shall focus on scaling up both depth and breadth the uptake of outputs of phase one and two. This project involves research and knowledge generation along the implementation to inform policy and other stakeholder interventions. Baseline studies and impact evaluation will be expected to be conducted. 

PROJECT KEY ACTIONS IN PHASES

PHASE 1:

  1. Establish the baseline decision enhancement needs of the various stakeholders
  2. Establish an innovative integrated digital platform for agricultural extension service provisioning, input and output provider’s linkages.
  3. Pilot the platform in all regions of the country
  4. Mobilise and create awareness of the platform

PHASE 2:

  1. Establish baselines understanding of content and information needs
  2. Establish a mechanism of content development, validation, certification and distribution.
  3. Pilot the development of content and distribution in a number of local languages to selected stakeholders.
  4. Establish and operationalise a farmer digital skills program
  5. Mobilise and create awareness of the solutions above to promote usage.

PHASE 3:

This phase will mainly have two core actions

  1. Scale-up actions in phase two
  2. Knowledge generation, documentation and dissemination

TARGET GROUP

The initiative targets largely smallholder farmers engaged in any form of farming including; Animal husbandry, crop growing, fish farming, apiary and rearing of chicken. In addition to extension officers and other value chain actors in rural areas. The applicant can, however, scope their proposal accordingly.

ELIGIBILITY OF APPLICANTS

General Criteria

  1. The lead applicant is a legally established entity in Uganda. To address the diverse needs of the project, it is likely that a solution will be delivered through consortia of providers. A software/platform developer MUST be part of the team presented by the applicant.
  2. The applicant organisation will, however, assume overall responsibility and sign a memorandum of understanding with the UCC, witnessed by any of the implementing partners to enforce joint accountability of action. In case of a consortium, all partner roles and corresponding budgets should be presented independently clearly showing those for the software/platform developer.
  3. The lead applicant must be in satisfactory financial health and have adequate financial systems to report to the RCDF as shall be required.
  4. The lead applicant should be able to operate in all regions of Uganda.
  5. lead applicant has over 10 Years’ experience working with farmers in Uganda (both crop and livestock).
  6. The lead applicant has documented experience in mobilising, coordinating and delivering similar initiatives at a national scale, especially working in rural areas.
  7. The lead applicant has a clear strategic Plan incorporating such Projects
  8. The applicant has the capacity to network and mobilise complementary resources to sustain the initiative.
  9. The applicant should provide at least two reference letters from organisations they have previously partnered with.

Criteria for the software/platform developer

The software/platform developer may be an individual or a software firm. The platform is a core part of this project, and as thus the software developer must fulfil the following.

  1. The software/platform developers CVs clearly showing their experience and qualifications together with projects that they have worked on should be submitted.
  2. Experience in developing and managing innovative software and software platforms should be indicated and must be verifiable.
  3. Demonstrate at least seven (7) years’ experience in developing related software systems.
  4. Provide at least two reference letters from organisations where related software systems have been developed.

Preference

The Fund will give preference to applicants whose Business Plan proposals highlight the following:-

  1. Demonstrate clear understanding and experience in dealing with the capacity enhancement of smallholder farmers and associated value chain actors
  2. Entities that have qualified human resources in house or working in an established and proven consortium to implement the proposed project within the proposed timeframe. Applicants should submit the key human resources for the project together with their resumes.
  3. Proposals that provide for greater innovations in the execution of the project actions in the remote and challenging environments. (e.g. lack of access or remoteness to the power grid, among others)
  4. Clear Financial and material contribution from the applicants over and above the grant amount
  5. Proposals that demonstrate higher value for money.

ASSESSMENT CRITERION

The grant applications will be assessed based on a 3-stage process (Administrative, Technical and Financial)

  1. Administrative– will focus on assessment of the eligibility
  2. Technical – will focus on clarity of the motivation, smartness of goals, appropriateness of methodology and project management, the feasibility of work plans, impact of the project, ability to meet project priorities, addressing of crosscutting issues and project sustainability capacity to deliver.
  3. Financial – will focus on Value for money, sustainability and ability to mobilise more resources to scale the initiative.

RISK ASSESSMENT

RCDF Assessment team will carry out a Risk assessment of the indicated and non-indicated risks. The evaluation based on the risks assessed will consider the totality of an applicant’s submission in determining whether a potential engagement would involve low, medium, high, or extreme risk to UCC/RCDF.

REQUIRED APPLICANT’S LEGAL DOCUMENTS

  1. Certificate of incorporation or registration for the lead applicant providing a legal name – the name that identifies the applicant for legal, administrative and other official purposes;
  2. Memorandum and Articles of Association for the lead applicant
  3. Applicant address (physical, postal, email and web site)
  4. Contact person details – the name, position, phone and email contact for an authorised representative of the Applicant and co-applicants ( if any)
  5. Letters of support from affiliated entities or proposed implementing partners if any (co-applicants)
  6. Applicant Audited Financial statements for the last two (2) years
  7. Signed Code of Ethical Conduct in Business for Grant applicants and Providers- Template provided by UCC/RCDF

BUSINESS PLAN REQUIREMENTS

  1. Project motivation, objectives and outcomes
  2. Project linkage to UCC/RCDF strategy and the National Development Agenda
  3. Experience managing similar projects
  4. Project implementation methodology
  5. Project management framework
  6. Project work plans and associated milestones, with a clear description of responsibilities for each partner
  7. Project implementation budget with clear allocation of resources to implementing partners
  8. Sustainability approach
  9. Monitoring and evaluation approach
  10. Risk management framework
  11. Integration of cross-cutting issues of; gender, youth, digital divide among other

APPLICATION TIMELINE

The grant application is open, effective 1st -12th June 2020.

A Pre – grant application meeting will be held on-line on 5th June 2020 at 09.30 am. Please register to attend the meeting using the link https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJAqd-mhrjgoE9XmMNDBKjkS8FlRKcTWKTj9 OR https://bit.ly/2XemmTp

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

For any required clarification or guidance on the grant application process, please contact telephone +256414339099 or email registry@ucc.co.ug/emuyomba@ucc.co.ug.

Download document here

Final applications will be submitted to:-

The Executive Director

Uganda Communications Commission

Plot 42-44, Spring Road Bugolobi

P.O.Box 7376, Kampala, Uganda

By email using the following email

registry@ucc.co.ug and emuyomba@ucc.co.ug

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