The Minister for Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) Chris Baryomunsi, recently asked those intending to join farming to embrace the use of technology in order to find arable land for rent.
While speaking during the launch of a farmers’ information sharing application – AgriShare Uganda – Baryomunsi said the use of technology is the only way to prosper in everything.
“You can use this App on your phone or computer to look for the best agricultural inputs, look for land for rent and how to sell your agricultural produce. Such an innovation helps us to use technology in our day-to-day life in order to realise development,” he said.
The minister applauded the initiators of the AgriShare App, saying it will lure more farmers embrace the use of technology such that they can uplift themselves since landless citizens can also engage in agriculture.
The App, Baryomunsi said, will simplify implementation of the Parish Development Model to help people embrace crop and livestock farming such that they can easily connect to what they need.
Baryomunsi’s ministry, he said, intends to connect on a satellite, to ensure that even those on hilly areas can have access to internet.
“When you expand connectivity, the cost of internet will become cheaper. The ministry also intends to cut all the taxes on internet such that by December this year, the cost of internet will be reduced to enhance online transactions,” he said.
Paul Zaake, the Managing Director AgriShare Uganda, said the App has a website and customer centres where farmers in need of resources like tractors, land for rent and other agricultural inputs can visit and have all their issues answered.
Available statistics indicate that only 19% of households rent land with only 1% renting out land yet above 70% of land in Uganda can allow agricultural activities, yet just 30% of it is utilised, with most of it remaining idle.
According to Zaake, hand hoes are still the main production tool in Uganda, with only 1.2% of the total farmers using tractors, while only 1.3% of the cultivated land is irrigated.
Emmanuel Mutebi, a farmer from Luwero district, described the App as an engine for economic empowerment and development. He said this is the only way farmers can increase productivity and boost their incomes.
He, however, decried high cost of internet, which he said has threatened majority of them especially the youth.
“Sometimes the internet is cut off in the middle of transactions yet it is on and off in some areas and very slow,” Mutebi said.
The assistant commissioner agricultural extensions and co-ordination in the agriculture ministry, Patience Rwamigisa, observed that such innovations play a major role in transformation of agriculture and hope to simplify implementation of Parish Development Model.
“Whatever we are doing is aimed at changing people’s livelihoods; we are now heading to digital transformation and prioritizing efficiency in service delivery,” she said.
Sarah Namubiru, a retired agricultural officer for Luwero district, said AgriShare has already helped farmers connect to service providers and workers who are reliable including timely access to faming machinery.
This, she said, has increased youth and women involvement in agriculture, which has boosted farmers’ incomes and improved livelihoods.