AAgriculture continues to be a key contributor to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of various economies around the world.
As of the 2020/2021 financial year, agriculture accounted for around 23.7% of Uganda’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 31% of export earnings.
Taking inspiration from the cultivation of coffee, which is Uganda’s highest paying export crop, the farmgate prices of Robusta Kiboko according to the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) averaged Shs. 1,800 per kilo in 2010, priced at UGX 3,100 per kilo according to the UCDA monthly report of January 2022, resulting in various economic benefits, including; employment and export earnings for the country.
According to a Uganda economic update of December 2021 18and World Bank Publishing Report, COVID-19 containment measures eased and the economy opened up, domestic demand conditions improved and private consumption figures rose more than 7% over the past year. fiscal year 2021 (FY21).
This is reflected in the better performance of the Uganda Purchasing Managers Index for most of FY21 as the business and trading environment improved.
Traditionally, our farmers depended on weather changes to know whether it was planting or harvesting season. Today, weather models are available to more farmers using smartphones through ACCU weather available for free on Android devices.
New technologies and innovations have created an enabling environment for farmers across the country and around the world to practice modern farming methods, where they have access to real-time information on planting seasons, weather conditions and crops, among others. elements. which facilitate a good harvest.
With the digital revolution and proper awareness among farmers of modern farming techniques supported by new technologies, it becomes easy to address issues such as; what more can be done to improve the performance of Uganda’s agricultural sector?
To drive sector performance, our farmers need to integrate technology into their farming operations.
They now have the ability to use high-tech temperature and humidity sensors, aerial crop irrigation and fumigation equipment, and mobile phone apps for agriculture, among other modern farming practices.
At the recent Harvest Money Expo in Kampala, attendees witnessed how start-ups like EzyAgric, an agricultural technology company that helps farmers adopt the use of technology through mobile phones, can drive to a huge transformation of the sector.
This Agric-tech, through a partnership with Airtel Uganda, enables farmers to access useful information on agricultural inputs, market access, insurance options, marketing and weather information, among others .
What’s interesting is that the service is accessible to smartphone users and non-smartphones who can access company services through a mobile app or USSD for farmers with feature phone users and the service is Comes with a long free list of extension workers who are in several districts and can speak English, Lugbara, Lumasaba, Runyakitara and Luganda.
Technology companies that facilitate communication, connectivity and payment services should then invest in designing and delivering products and services that support smartphone penetration and use within the farming community, recognizing that mobile phones are a tool that facilitates and improves agricultural productivity. , increase market access and expand marketing options for rural producers.
Also, for smallholder farmers in rural areas, more training is needed through agricultural workshops or seminars that address the lack of skills in using and operating some of the technologies.
These workshops can be organized by both government and licensed private entities who are familiar with the sector so that appropriate knowledge and information is shared.
Overall, for more dividends to be reaped in the agricultural sector, there is a need to continuously leverage and implement strategic partnerships that will provide farmers with access to modern and relevant services and information. .
By David Birungi, Public Relations Manager at Airtel Uganda.