Southwestern Uganda, like much of the rest of Uganda was heavily affected by travel restrictions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was difficult for farmers to transport produce to market and for traders to access commodities to trade. The restricted market access caused agricultural commodities to perish or lose value, reducing farmer and enterprise income.
Boda-bodas (motorcycles), shared taxis, and truck drivers faced reduced sales and fewer job opportunities while farmers resorted to walking long distances while carrying agricultural produce on their heads, or via pack animals, contributing to poor quality of products due improper handling during transportation.
USAID, through the Feed the Future Uganda Inclusive Agricultural Markets (FtF IAM) activity has partnered with Ntuha Services Ltd based in Mbarara in Southwestern Uganda to scale convenient and easily accessible transportation services during the pandemic.
Ntuha has developed a phone-based app under the brand name, Ntuha ride, that enables users to access transportation services for either passengers or goods using a boda-boda,, taxi, or truck to get to their destinations safely and at lower prices. Before the partnership with FtF IAM, Ntuha was just starting up in Southwestern Uganda and had only onboarded 100 riders and 1,200 users out of which only 48 boda-bodas and 284 customers were actively transacting on the platform.
Through USAID’s assistance, Ntuha has been able to provide affordable, convenient, and accessible means of transportation to over 9,000 farmers and has registered 459 boda-boda and truck drivers in Southwestern Uganda. Active riders and drivers have increased from 48 to 207 drivers and active users has increased from 284 to 2,197. More than 1,500 farmers from Mbarara, Ntungamo, Bushenyi, Isingiro, and Ibanda Districts are requesting for services and entrusting Ntuha service providers with their produce and other commodities. Innovations like Ntuha services during the COVID-19 pandemic have changed the way farmers perceive transportation and engage with digital technologies in ways that have the potential to endure and scale long after the economic impacts of the pandemic are overcome.