ICTs for AgriculturePeter Ongom
A vibrant Agricultural sector is essential to the growth of other nonfarm sectors due to the large dependence on it for food security and employment. Additionally, most of the rural households do earn a big percentage of their income from it. Narratives around poverty, hunger, food security and nutrition largely subsumed in the food system are intrinsically linked to the development of the rural economic structure which is constantly being re shaped by many forces, for example, livelihood opportunities, forces of urbanization, changes in land use patterns, markets and the inherent social demographic structure of the villages.
The reliance on Agriculture as the main source of livelihood in the rural areas of which majority of the citizens are small holder farmers faces many challenges, for example, unreliable climatic conditions, pests and diseases, market scarcity and the agricultural gender gap among others.
The logical question therefore ensues; How can small holder Agriculture be transformed into sustainable and profitable enterprises?
Using a multi stakeholder approach and effective deployment of digital technology in Agriculture is one of the significant ways of addressing the numerous Agricultural challenges faced by the small holder farmers. However, for the ICTs to be effectively adopted and utilized by the small holder farmers, there must be a systematic effort to understand the exact challenges they face and identify the best innovative solutions to address them.
The UNFFE ICT4Farmers Initiative is one of the pillar programs for UNFFE 2030 vision, which focuses on transforming smallholder agriculture into sustainable and profitable enterprises. The UNFFE ICT4farmers initiative being implemented in partnership with Eight Tech Consults (www.8technologies.net ) one of the leading ICT4Agric firms in the region, with kind support from RCDF, Uganda Communication Commission ( www.ucc.co.ug ) is one of the key ways farmers will be able to realize the benefits of ICTs in Agriculture, in terms of improved yields, market accessibility and improved income among a wide range of benefits through establishing a sustainable integrated decision enhancement service platform for various actors inclusive of farmers, policy makers, extension workers, logistics providers, academia, processors among others and Promoting the uptake of ICT Innovation and services by various actors through skilling and awareness creation.
With technology powered by ( www.8technologies.net ), digital initiatives have been developed, for example, the mobile and web based system, the mobile application and establishment of toll free call centers, all this aimed at transforming small holder agriculture into sustainable and profitable enterprises.