Umoja – Royal College of Art (RCA/2017)

Service Design

Umoja – Royal College of Art (RCA/2017)

Student Brief  – Term 2 

In our second term at the RCA we were approached by CNH (New Holland tractors) to help them come up with ideas to enter new frontiers. As a South African and a farmer’s daughter, I was immediately drawn to this project. 

Methadology Understanding the challenge of working from a distance I realised that I needed to find people on the ground who understand the area. I contacted Yara fertilizer consultants that work in the region as well as a Director of Starke Ayres in Zambia to find out what are the real problems they are facing in working with and growing the smallholder farmers yield in Sub-Saharan Africa. From that I realised that the main barriers to mechanisation are affordability, access, maintenance, repair, training, knowledge and sustainable infrastructure. This is a large list but ontop of this I did not only want to create a solution that benefitted CNH but as and African I wanted to create a solution that helped improve the lives of the farmer, help facilitate sustainable community engagement and create employment. Understanding that this was a very complex problem I realised that I had to do a large amount of reading on theory on development. One quote I found very inspiring was from the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge “Lessons Learned” very inspiring: “ Innovation is more than invention. Successful innovation is based not only on technological performance, but also on how the technology can build networks, knowledge and capacity.” 

Solution I designed a concept service called

 Umoja (meaning unit and working in community). Umoja builds community co-operatives of smallholder farmers and links them with local New Holland drivers enabling cheaper sustainable access to mechanisation, information and farming goods. The more farmers who book at a specific time the cheaper it is.

Tutor: Gus Desbarates

Duration: 7 weeks

Winner of the African Design Awards 2017


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