Earlier last week the Farmers of Kibogo District Farmers Association were graced by the presence of Hon. Chris Baryomunsi, the Minister of ICT and National Guidance, accompanied by Dr. Aminah Zawedde, PS, MoICT&NG on a field tour to get an insight on the projects being or that have been supported under the Uganda Communications Universal Service and Access Fund (UCUSAF). They were also accompanied by Prof. Dorothy Okello, Board Chair-UCC, Eng. Irene Kaggwa-Sewankambo, ED-UCC, Eng. Agoi Geoffrey, Board Member-UCC, Mr. Edward Musingye, CAO-Kiboga District and other district leaders from Kiboga. During this visit the focus was put on the ICT4Farmers project being implemented by Uganda National Farmers Federation in collaboration with Eight Tech Consults ltd.
The activity was intended to appreciate the impact of ICT on the farmers through ICT4Farmers and how its products i.e. (The mobile application (http://shorturl.at/emPZ4), The web portal(https://app.unffeict4farmers.org/), the E-Agriculture academy (https://academy.unffeict4farmers.org/) and the Toll free call centre (0800209003) have been used by the farmers in the Kibogo district.
The engagement was opened with a brief opening remarks from Ms. Nansamba Immaculate, chairperson of Kiboga District Farmers Association who appreciated the UCC team for this initiative and highlighted a few challenges that may need to be addressed in order for the farmers to fully embrace technology which included; the need for ICT devices, extension of power services to the rural areas, lower the cost of internet bundles among others. She was then followed by Mr. Nyombi Thembo (Director, RCDF) who informed members that; “ICT is a road that everyone has to take, bit an Accountant, a teacher, Technician, Banker, engineer, layers, health workers and farmers, therefore, that road is very important to the current generation.
UCC/RCDF are making sure the people are accessing that road with ease and at a high speed. In 2019, we carried out a study (on Level of ICT access and usage among farmers) and found out that farmers are having several challenges accessing and using ICTs such as power supplies; unstable networks; high costs of ICT infrastructure; low incomes of rural farmers; and a lack of necessary skills to use the technologies. On that matter we embarked on the ICT4Farmers initiative to see how best this can be addressed and some of the issues it solves include; access to better farming methods, connection to the different service providers, farm management, farmer digital skilling and free virtual call Centre”
The engagement later involved sharing of farmers’ opinions towards the program (this was carried on using a video demonstration from the farmers. This can be accessed on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AecefpLozH0
The session was later graced with a word from Hon. Chris Baryomunsi, discussed ways to improve farming with the support of ICT. He thanked @UCC_Official for this initiative. He also appreciated the farmers in Kiboga for working together to form an association, He later emphasized that issues regarding internet access will be resolved through the provision of free hotspots in the different areas and its part of the planned activities for the Ministry.
Dr. Aminah Zawedde appreciated the UCC initiative and the farmers of Kiboga on embracing technology, she later urged the youth to work with MoICT &NG to register the enterprises and associations that they are involved in to support them in getting partnerships and sponsorships as it is important that we know how to access them in case opportunities as such come up and further encouraged them to be patient as they progress in farming and also urged them to learn more. She emphasized that ICT focuses on job creation for the youth & also urged farmers to embrace the #PDM as it has many opportunities that they can benefit from.
The session was concluded with a closing prayer.