A new report on the freedom on the Net 2006, by Global Freedom House has rated Uganda partly free, though implicating it for the continued plots to put up restrictions on social media and internet-based communication tools.
Uganda which scored -6 on the decline scale is in the same league with at least seven countries scattered around the world.
The other countries that were declined partly free by the report include; Bangladesh, Cambodia, Ecuador, Libya, Brazil, Malasia, and South Korea.
This new report on the internet freedoms, focused on accessibility of popular social media platforms particularly, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Youtube, telegram, Skype, and instagram.
The report, castigated Uganda for blocking of social-media platforms between February and May2016.
“In Uganda, officials directed internet service providers to block WhatsApp, Facebook, and Twitter for several days during the presidential election period in February 2016 and again in the run-up to the reelected incumbent’s inauguration in May,” the report observes.
In both instances, the report adds that the “unprecedented blocking worked to silence citizens’ discontent with the president’s 30-year grip on power and their efforts to report on the ruling party’s notorious electoral intimidation tactics.”
Users punished for their connections and readership
The report also implicated Uganda on victimization of the social-media users based on their connections and readership.
The report cited the arrest and charging a one Robert Shaka with offensive communication whom the state believed to be Tom Voltaire Okwalinga (TVO).
“A man in Uganda was charged on suspicion of operating the popular Facebook page Tom Voltaire Okwalinga, but he denied being responsible for the page, which frequently accused senior leaders of corruption and incompetence,” the report notes.
Restrictions on messaging APPs and internet-based calls
Though Uganda is not mentioned in this particular case, the new report found a new development of instant restrictions often imposed on messaging and calling platforms during times of protests and due to national security concerns.
The report’s findings indicate that among all the social media platforms, WhatsApp was the most targeted with 12 out of the 65 countries blocking the entire service or disabling certain features, affecting millions of its one billion users worldwide.
Telegram, Viber, Facebook messenger, LINE, IMO, and Google Hangouts were also regularly blocked.
These restrictions all together, the report stresses that “threaten to infringe on users’ fundamental right to access the internet.”
KEY FINDINGS WORLDWIDE
· Internet freedom around the world declined in 2016 for the sixth consecutive year
· Two-thirds of all internet users-67 percent live in countries where criticism of the government, military, or ruling are subject to censorship
· Social media users face unprecedented penalties as authorities in 38 countries made arrests, based on social media posts over the past year. Globally, 27 percent of all internet users live in countries where people have been arrested for publishing, sharing or merely “linking” content on Facebook
· Governments are increasingly going after messaging apps like WhatsApp and Telegram which can spread information quickly and securely
Farmland values hit record highs, pricing out farmers
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.
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