Government has been called upon to formulate a national E-agriculture policy to regulate the emerging industry and to promote speedy and wider adoption of the use of Information Communication and Technology (ICT) in agriculture.
According to Fhiwa Ndou, the Head of User Acquisition at We Farm, a free peer-to-peer service that enables farmers to share information via SMS, there is need to promote the deployment of appropriate ICT tools and services at each stage of the agricultural value chain.
Fhiwa said that the Government can develop digital literacy programmes for young farmers and agri-business, as well as strengthen ICT incorporation into agricultural curricula for sustainable development.
“The use of ICT in agriculture is so essential; it will enable easy spread of information to farmers for example the outbreak of pests and diseases like the armyworm,” said Fhiwa.
Fhiwa said this during the official opening of Wefarm offices in Bukoto.
Fhiwa noted that the use of ICT in today’s agricultural practices could not be overemphasized because it could be used to carry out soil tests, to apply fertilizer, receive extension advice and weather forecasts, monitor pests and diseases and make marketing decisions.
He explained that since many young people have access to smart phones and are using internet, the potential of easing agricultural knowledge transfer is limitless.
Justus Byaruhanga, the programme officer of Wefarm said Uganda National Meteorological Authority must adopt ICT tools such as mobile phones to disseminate weather information to farmers in the form of text and voice messages among other technological interventions to attract young people towards agriculture.
“The use of ICT helps farmers to decide when to harvest; when to weigh produce in the field, Like at Wefarm we collect all data shared by SMS in order to analyse the real challenges faced by smallholder farmers and map trends and issues such as drought, disease or crop diversification,” he explained.