Wednesday October 28 2015

New satellite data technology to provide farmers with information

 

By Dorothy Nakaweesi

Lack of up-to-date information, especially on the good agronomical and weather updates has always been a big challenge farmers in Uganda experience.
Because of this, farmers either plant late or in the middle of the season, something which affects not only the quantities but also the quality of production.
In a bid to reduce on these losses, the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) in collaboration with six other partners with support from the Dutch ministry of Foreign Affairs, has launched a new satellite data technology project in Uganda.

This project dubbed the ‘Market-led, User-owned ICT4Ag Enabled Information Service’ (MUIIS) will help in building capacity of farmers to become information service providers using Information Communication Technology (ICT).
This three year project is expected to benefit a total of 350,000 farmers in Uganda something experts say will go a long way not only in improving the livelihood of the farmers but also agriculture’s contribution to the country’s GDP will increase.

Benefits
This project is predicted to increase food crop yield, increase in effective use of agricultural inputs, farmers’ income, and trade and investment activities by agri-input dealers, provide and enhance literacy, capacity building for the disadvantaged.

How it works
This project is designed as a demand-driven, Market-led, User-owned ICT4Ag Enabled Information Service (MUIIS), seeks to strengthen information and communication technologies (ICTs) and knowledge management (KM) capacities of grassroots farmers.
According to Dr Benjamin Kwasi Addom, the programme coordinator of the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (ACP-EU-CTA), this project will be done through providing satellite based timely, accurate information on crop management, in Central, Eastern, Northern and Western Uganda.

Selected coordinators from the farmers’ organization will be facilitated with smart-phones and trained on how to read and interpret data on weather alerts, provide farmers with agronomic tips and provide financial services to support the first two objectives.
To achieve this, a total of 4.5 million Euros (Shs18.9 billion) has been earmarked in the implementation of this project.

“In the first phase of this project we will cater for three commodities mainly Maize, Soya Beans and Sesame to improve their production and marketing in the value chains,” Mr Addom.
Mr Addom said they are targeting over 4 million individual farmers organized in 500 cooperatives in 4 regions with a unique service that we believe will lead to improved user efficiency of inputs including water, fertilizer, seeds and pesticides.
“…..because of this intervention, we believe there will be long-term impact through decreased dependence on social assistance and improved sustainability in food production,” He added.

Reactions
Mr Mike Sebalu, Member of Parliament of East African Legislative Assembly, said more often the role of farmers is not acknowledged yet they have done a lot to support this country.
“This is a timely, necessary, desired and relevant project for our economy especially on rural transformation. A well informed, exposed farming community and agriculture in Uganda will not be the same after the full implementation of this project,” Mr Sebalu said.
Ms Carol Kakooza, programme director Mercy Corps, one of the partner organisations said: “We have a target of improving self-reliance of up to 800,000 farmers.”
She said this will be achieved by supporting entrepreneurship and youth, promoting enabling environments and uptake in public, private, NGOs, farmers, extension practitioners in Uganda.

Organisations
Project partners include the Ministry of Agriculture, National Information Technology Authority, Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, and partners including Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), aWhere Inc., the East African Farmers’ Federation (EAFF), EARS Earth Environment Monitoring (EARS-E2M), the eLEAF Competence Center (eLEAF) and Mercy Corps, Uganda.

dnalaweesi@ug.nationmedia.com

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