By Prossy Nandudu
Researchers in the agriculture sector, and the National Information Technology Authority of Uganda (NITAU) have agreed to form a working group that will identify priorities in agriculture that require ICT intervention.
Dr. Yona Baguma, the deputy Director General of the National Agriculture Research Organization (NARO) said for Uganda to achieve agriculture transformation, as envisioned by government through the Agro Industrialization agenda, there is need to integrate ICT and Agriculture.
Through agro industrialization, government wants to increase commercialization and competitiveness of agricultural production and agro-processing.
Baguma made the revelation on Thursday last week, during the closure of a three-day scientific conference, organized by NARO and Makerere University. The conference was running under the theme Innovations for Enhancing Productivity and Agro-Industrialization.
Baguma explained that as researchers, they have been tasked by government to reduce the number of farmers in subsistence farming from the current 68% to at least 55%, increase agriculture contribution to 8% from the current 6.2% in addition to contribution to the country’s GDP from 20% to 28%.
“We take note that for us to have accelerated agriculture transformation we need to integrate ICT in agriculture and this is one of the recommendations from this conference that we set up an E-Agriculture working group to identify key priorities that we need to invest in to trigger meaningful contribution for agriculture,” said Baguma.
His submission was emphasized by Collin Babigarukamu, the director E-Government services at NITAU, who said that through the E- Agriculture working group, specific needs of farmers will be addressed.
“Am looking forward to working with researchers, policy makers and academia to have a conversation as to how ICT can work for agriculture value chains because every technology in place should be solving a problem, ICT shouldn’t be about talking nice things but to solve a need,” Babigaruakamu said.
At the same event, Baguma called on President Yoweri Museveni, to increase funding in the agriculture sector so as to carry out social economic transformation of the country.
“With increase in funding, timely research and dissemination of research findings will solve emerging challenges in the sector such pests and diseases for continued production,” Baguma added.