Farmers ask govt to make internet data more affordable 

Minister for ICT and National Guidance, Dr Chris Baryomunsi launching the AgriShare. PHOTO BY JANE NAFULA

A section of farmers have tasked government to revise the cost of internet data and ease access to markets, farm inputs and boost production.
Mr Onesmus Turyahwerwa, a farmer from Kyankwanzi District said whereas several farmers now own smartphones and use them to transact businesses, the cost of internet data remains a big setback to far. 
“They have the phones but maintaining them in very costly. If government can lower the cost of data or even make it free for people using it to run businesses, we shall be able to embrace and benefit from technology," Mr Turyahwerwa said. 
Ms Sarah Namubiru, a maize and soybean farmer from Nsaasi village in Luwero District who uses online Apps  like AgriShare to recruit farm workers, market her produce and source for equipment like tractors said technology has simplified access to service but the high cost of online tractions calls for immediate government intervention.
 "I used to move from village to village in search for a tractor. It was a tedious process, but with Apps like AgriShare, a mere click avails you with a list of options and services which you get in a shortest time possible. The only problem is buying data. I spend about 5,000 on data a week," she said. 

The farmers made the appeal during the launch of AgriShare mobile App held in Kampala on May 6.
Mr Wilberforce Semigga, a farmer and a Senior Agricultural Officer at Luwero District Local Government said the issue of cost should be taken seriously if Ugandans are to benefit from Information Communication Technology.
Several studies have showed that Uganda has the most expensive mobile data in East Africa.
AgriShare Uganda managing director, Mr Paul Zaake said that about 4,000 farmers have so far subscribed to the App which links them to resources like labour, irrigation, processing, tractors and land that they can hire or rent. 
The Commissioner for Agricultural Extension Services at the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr Patience Rwamigisa, said government has put agriculture at the centre of economic transformation through programmes such as the Parish Development Model (PDM).
Officiating at the launch of the AgriShare mobile App, the Minister of Information Communication and Technology and National Guidance, Dr Chris Baryomunsi, attributed the high cost of internet to the low number of subscribers and the cost of accessing internet through the undersea cable at Mombasa since Uganda is a landlocked country.

 He however, said that the government plans to reduce the cost of internet by half and make it affordable.
Mr Baryomunsi urged innovators to develop technologies that will help solve problems right from the grass roots.
He revealed that his ministry would continue supporting innovators including those in the agriculture sector.  
Mr Baryomunsi who said he was born and raised in a rural setting tilling land with a hand hoe to derive livelihood was disappointed that most farmers today still use rudimentary methods of farming.  
“Many people still live that kind of life. I feel challenged as a minister of ICT. We need to transform this so that they can be part of the industrial revolution because they are the people who vote for us and get us into big offices. We must improve their livelihoods," he said.
About 39 percent of household in Uganda thrive on subsistence farming. 
 

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