If the youth are to be enticed into embracing agriculture, then there is two tools that they can be hooked with. Dr Charles Muhingu says this is the smart phone and the computer.
“We all know that it is every young person’s dream to own a smart phone and, indeed, they use it for so many things, but less to do with agriculture,” he says.
Mahingu is the director of innovations and ICT at the ExcelHort Consult and Agribusiness Incubation Centre in Mbarara.
Mahingu explains that beyond just calling people, the phone must be turned into a major farming tool. ExcelHort trains agriprenuers to improve on their practices, including adding value to their produce.
“We are using the phone to predict weather for example. Weather is a very important aspect of farming,” he says.
Additionally, a smart phone can also be used to keep records of the farm. “There are many applications that can be set up on a phone in order to monitor the running of a farm,” he says. All these if well-prepared can attract youth into agriculture.
According to the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), there are over 20 million active phones in Uganda, with over 5 million of these smart phones. However, the number of active farmers with smart phones is not known.
“Unfortunately, few Ugandans use smart phones to their maximum technical abilities,” Mahingu says.
At the centre in Mbarara, they are using the smart phone to carry out extension services with farmers.
“We give them weather predictions using the phone,” he says. Farmers are also able to monitor market rates, get planting tips and even identify pests and diseases using their phones.
“We are doing this well knowing that smart phones need to be charged every day and that farmers may need data to access the internet for these important services.
“But this can be solved through the government information centres that the Government is setting up across the country. Farmers should be allowed to charge their phones at no cost at these centres so that they receive this vital information,” Mahingu explains.