10 July 2018

Uganda: Scientists to Digitise Agriculture Chain With New Apps

Uganda's National Agricultural Research Organisation (Naro) is popularising three Apps and an SMS-based platform it has developed to help farmers obtain relevant information through information communication and technology tools.

The applications, which are available on the Google Playstore are the Naro Beans, Naro Maize and Naro Cassava.

These three crops have been targeted as a start because they are considered key commodities for the country, besides coffee, tea, bananas and rice.

Farmers without smartphones can still access information from an SMS platform. Each SMS will cost Ush220 ($0.05).

Boniface Akuku, director for ICT at the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation, who helped Uganda develop the apps, said the different platforms will offer aggregated agricultural research content to farmers which is relevant to their needs.

"This information will be on a wide range on issues, including diseases, post-harvest handling, husbandry practices, technologies and innovations and other frequently asked questions," said Mr Akuku.

A seed traceability app will also be introduced to track seeds developed by Naro.

Dr Imelda Kashaija, deputy executive director at Naro, said integrating ICT in the agricultural value chain could also attract more youth to engage in the sector.

One of the challenges many youth face today is access to quality information that can help them take up agriculture as a career.

"If the youth know that they can get all the advisory services they need at their fingertips through a mobile device, we believe many will want to join the sector," said Dr Kashaija.

A World Bank report on the potential of agriculture in Uganda shows that although there are several structural barriers in the country's agriculture sector, including declining productivity, vulnerability to impacts of climate change and poor quality control systems, developments in agricultural technology models could help improve the sector.

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