Do you want extension services or market information or a loan without meeting anyone face to face? For the farmers in northern Uganda and West Nile, a new digital tool is going to empower farmers to access extension services and market information through the mobile telephones.
“This is going to be the answer to the challenges we face as farmers,” said David Oceng, a farmer in Kitgum. “We can also negotiate better prices.”
He added, “We will get to know the best inputs we need for growing different crops, the best sources of inputs (input dealers) and the prices on the mobile phone.”
Oceng said they have been making attempts to increase the productivity in the farming sector of northern Uganda but the application of ICT is proving to be the best game-changer.
He was speaking recently at the launch of the “inclusive digital innovation in agriculture” at the Uganda Media Center in Kampala. The inclusive digital innovation has been developed by the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), in partnership with the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and financial technology firms under funding amounting to $15m (sh1.6b). Judith Nabakooba, the Minister for ICT presided over the launching of the digital tool.
Most output from agriculture is from small scale farmers contributing up to 78%. However, smallholder farmers do not have access to extension services and credit services.
“Digitization is going to bridge the extension gap,” said Uhuru Sserubiri, CEO of Cabraltech ltd adding that the digital tool is going to complement the traditional extension services.
He said they were going to profile the farmers, their age gender and that this would be used to establish the information needs of the farmers. They also rely on secondary data of the farmers.
The transformation of agriculture is only possible with building the capacity of the farmers. This is going to be undertaken through basic agricultural practices, marketing and bulking.
The UNCDF Digital Country Lead, Uganda Chris Lukolyo said the five-year project that seeks to ensure digital inclusivity will see farmers equipped with digital skills to enable them access agricultural-related advisory and extension services digitally.
The services include weather patterns, markets, prices and the type of crops to grow on particular soil types.
Lukolyo said that while this information is ordinarily provided by extension workers, Uganda lacks adequate numbers to serve all farmers.
“These are the things that an extension worker can tell a farmer but there are not enough extension workers for all farmers across the country. So we want to leverage digital platforms to extend advisory and other extension services to the rural farmers,” he said.
The programme is being implemented with the support of the Swedish government, through the Swedish International Development Co-operation Agency, which is targeting women, youth, refugees and migrants, who are normally underserved when it comes to digital solutions.
Lukolyo noted that they chose Northern Uganda and West Nile as a starting point for the intervention but noted they are open to extending to other regions should there be willing partners to implement a similar project.
The programme will also see farmer partners leverage the digital platform and assess the creditworthiness of farmers to enable them access credit for inputs without having to present collateral (land titles and buildings), which commercial banks always ask for.
Creditworthiness will be assessed using information gathered by Hamwe East Africa, a fintech that uses digital solutions to transform Uganda’s agriculture and enhance production and productivity.
The Hamwe East Africa chief executive officer, Allan Asiimwe said the fintech which specialises in the digitisation of agricultural value chains will use its M-Farmer Application (App), to extend the benefits of technology to the agricultural value chains. The value chains include farmers, traders, processors and consumers to enable them build better records, increase the efficiency of operations and make informed decisions.
Source: New Vision
Anti-tick vaccine drive gives hope to farmers
Dairy farmers in Ankole Sub-region are optimistic that the anti-tick vaccine launched by the government will solve their problem of tick resistance to acaricides.
For the last 10 years, dairy farmers across the country have decried tick resistance to acaricides, which has been ravaging the livestock sector.
Mr Emmanuel Kyeishe, a resident of Rushere in Kiruhura District and dairy farmer with more than 100 head of cattle, says dairy farmers in the cattle corridor have battled the problem of tick resistance for a long time.
“The issue of ticks has been rampant in the cattle corridor to the extent of losing our cows. We spend a lot on treating them because of ticks since they infect animals with several diseases,” he said.
Mr Kyeishe said he loses at least two cows every month to tick-borne diseases like East Coast Fever and heart water.
“I have lost 180 cows in the last five years due to ticks and tick-borne diseases. If they do not die, they get blind and some lose their skin. But if we get a vaccine, it will have saved us a lot,” he said.
Mr Kyeishe added that he has resorted to mixing agrochemicals with acaricides since the available ones on the market are failing.
Mr Jackson Bells Katongole, a dairy farmer in Kashari, Mbarara District, said if the government’s move to have anti-tick vaccine is successful, quality of dairy products would improve.
“A farmer loses at least two to five cows every month and we have resorted to using different concoctions from Tanzania, Rwanda and Kenya because the problem of ticks has made us helpless,” he said.
He added: “We had reached the point of mixing pesticides with acaricides because of tick resistance and in the process our cows have gone blind, lost skin and others died.”
Mr Katongole further said each cow that dies is valued at around Shs2.5 million, which means that a farmer loses Shs5 million every month.
The Mbarara City Veterinary Officer, Dr Andrew Akashaba, said in Mbarara alone, there are about 60,000 head of cattle, mostly exotic breeds which are prone to ticks.
“Most of the exotic breeds of cattle are at a high risk of acquiring ticks and tick borne diseases, which are a major hindrance to livestock development in the cattle corridor,” he said.
Mr Akashaba added that between 2,000 and 3,000 cows die annually in Mbarara alone due to tick-related diseases.
While launching the final clinical trial of anti-tick vaccine manufactured by National Agriculture Research Organisation at Mbarara Zardi on Thursday, the deputy director general and research coordinator, Dr Yona Baguma, assured the farmers that once the vaccine is approved, they will be spraying their cattle against ticks twice in six months as opposed to twice a week.
Original source: Monitor
Farmers fail to access farm inputs on Ministry e-platform
About 3,640 model farmers in Nebbi District, who were registered under the Agricultural Cluster Development Programme (ACDP) to access agricultural inputs on E-voucher, are stuck after failure of the system.
The farmers say the system has affected their planting patterns.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry under the Agriculture cluster Development Programme (ACDP) introduced the e-voucher system five years ago to enable farmers access agricultural inputs electronically.
Farmers on alert as new banana virus hits Western Uganda
Farmers should stop getting banana plantlets from districts in Western and North-West Uganda to stop the spread of the Banana Bunchy Top Virus (BBTV) disease, Hebert Musiimenta, the Principal Agricultural Inspector in the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries-MAAIF has advised.
The Banana Bunchy Top Virus was first observed in the western Uganda districts in late 2020. In July this year, the ministry raised a red flag when the disease caused havoc on banana plantations in West Nile, Rwenzori and Tooro regions.
An infected plant presents with severe stunting, narrow leaves, chlorotic leaf margins, and dark green streaks on petioles and midribs. The affected plant also shows a rosette-like or bunchy and choked appearance. Diseased plants rarely produce fruit and when they do, the fruit is stunted and twisted.
The disease is spread by aphids and the planting of affected tubers.
The disease has the capacity to wipe out banana gardens within 3 to 5 years unless farmers practice the control measures such as the proper destruction of affected stems, control of aphids, and planting clean materials.
Hebert Musiimenta, Principal Agricultural Inspector in the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), says to contain the spread of the disease, farmers should stop getting banana planting materials from Nebbi, Zombo, Arua, Maracha, and Koboko districts in North-West Uganda and Bunyangabu, Kasese, Kabarore, and Bundibugyo districts in Western Uganda.
He also advises the farmers to be cautious about planting materials from Kisoro, Kabale, Ntungamo, and Isingiro districts since they are near the border. The disease is suspected to have spread to Uganda from the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda. Musiimenta advised farmers in an interview with URN that if they are to pick planting materials, they should first consult agriculture officers in their areas to recommend safe planting materials.
Musimenta revealed that a team of officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industries, and Fisheries is investigating the prevalence of the virus in Kigezi region specifically districts neighboring Rwanda and DR Congo.
He says the disease has the capacity to wipe out banana gardens within 3 to 5 years unless farmers practice the control measures such as the proper destruction of affected stems, control of aphids, and planting clean materials.
Original Source: URN via The independent
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