By John Odyek
Uganda needs more technological and practical software application solutions in order to tackle problems faced by smallholder farmers in the agriculture sector.
“Innovations in agriculture are needed. Agriculture in Africa is loaded with many problems. The farmers in Uganda are now elderly. The young people think agriculture is dirty,” the state minister for agriculture, Fred Bwino Kyakulaga explained.
This was during the unveiling of the winners of the AYuTe Africa Challenge Uganda 2023, which was organised by Heifer International Uganda.
The function took place at the Protea Hotel, Kampala, last week on Wednesday.
The challenge focused on recognising and promoting inventive agri-tech entrepreneurs that have introduced solutions that ease the tasks of small-holder farmers.
Smallholder farmers are often using rudimentary and inefficient traditional technology.
Simon Peter Okoci, an engineering student and proprietor of Smart Kuku Brooder, who invented a device that regulates the temperature and light for chicks, emerged as the overall winner of the challenge.
The device reduces the deaths of chicks from heat and stress.
He received a sh35m cash prize to scale up the technology.
Willy Katumwa emerged as the first runner-up in the challenge. His innovation is a device that automates fish feeding in order to prevent excessive and underfeeding. His prize was sh25m.
Samantha Ainembabazi was the third winner. Her innovation is an organic product that preserves and extends fruit shelf life by 30 days. She received a sh10m prize.
The minister commended the winners, noting that over 55% of Uganda’s farmers today are aged 55 years and older, while 20% of the farmers are 60 years and older, indicating that the majority of people engaged in farming are not young.
He pledged to all who participated in the challenge that they would be supported by the ministry.
Kyakulaga noted that last year’s winners have led the way by creating jobs for 25 youths and serving over 200 farmers across the country.
William Matovu, the country director of Heifer International Uganda, said “Heifer Uganda believes that the future of Africa’s agriculture hinges on creating opportunities for young innovators to transform the agricultural landscape. Our aim is to build a robust community of innovators and alumni across the country to accelerate meaningful impact for smallholder farmers.”