Africa not fulfilling her Agricultural Potential? Will Africa ever be food
secure? What role can the youth play in the agricultural value chain? And what’s

The questions are endless yet there seem to be
no answers to them.
When the CLIMATE changes, does
that mean anything to you? Does it affect food production, security and yields?
I think it’s high time AFICAN adapted to Climate change.

At the recent Food Agriculture and
Natural resources policy analysis Network (FARNPAN) annual conference that I
attended in Swaziland , Dr Sepo Hachigonta the FANRPAN climate Change
Coordinator said that, Climate change possess a real risk to the future of
farming and food security in Africa, thus all stakeholders including policy
makers, researchers, scientists and farmers should engage to find solutions.
Climate change impacts are much
localised and hence some areas are more vulnerable than others. Therefore
African Governments need to spearhead initiatives of climate proofing
Agriculture with all partners involved in climate change adaptation strategies.
The capacity of policy analysts, scientists and Journalists must be enhanced in
the fields of Agriculture, Climate and socio-economics to collectively build a
strong base of evidence on cropping systems to inform adaptation policies and
investment decisions. It’s also important to build the capacity of young
researchers on climate issues and on how the environment interacts with social,
human and economic sectors.
key strategy of managing risk and vulnerability associated with Climate change
is developing and implementing evidence based policies and programs that
respond to local realities and priorities”
For a country like Uganda who’s
economy is dominated by the agricultural sector, which accounts for 41.6% of
the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), 85% of the export earnings and 80% of
employment opportunities with the youngest population yet highest youth
unemployment in the world,  (World Bank
report on Africa Development Indicators (ADI) 2008/2009. Fifty six (56%).This is an indicator that in order to achieve
meaningful development programms and projects, there is need to involve the
youth and have the programs youth oriented. Is there any role that the youth in
Uganda are playing to achieve climate smart agriculture and initiatives that
will assist farmers to climate proof agriculture? 
This is what bloggers and Journos ought to understand about
reporting on climate change. 


It’s BLOG ACTION DAY once again and this year’s theme is FOOD. Sharing my thoughts with you all

late August 2011, I have been travelling from one country to another attending
a number of conference. I just realised that in one way or another, the issue
of FOOD featured so much in all the three conferences.

While some people in some parts of the
world are fighting obesity, others in another part of the world are starving to
death because they have no access to food.
first of these series of conferences I went for was the One Young World summit2011 that took place in Zurich Switzerland from 1st to 4th
September. With a scholarship from MTN, I was amazed at the number of young people
who had convened to talk about issues that are currently affecting the world.
One of them was HEALTH.  The keynote
speaker for the health panel was TED prize winner Jamie Oliver of FoodRevolution
who spoke about global Obesity.
of my tweets during the session on health and food with the hash tag (#fixhealth) were: 

“You and I need to
educate each other about the food that we eat”
“We need to act
against wasting food”
“We need to
respect the fact that we have food and other don`t”
“We all have
passion for food, Yes, but do we have respect for farmers”
“We need to change
our lifestyle and change our eating habits too”
·       “As we fight hunger
and starvation in Africa, we should also sort out the issue of obesity in   the
US and Europe”.
“Food is a basic
need and a human right”
“The general
children are borne in a junk food culture”
“Food Security is
not necessarily about improving production but increasing access to food”.


The Second was the Food, Agriculture and Natural
Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) Annual High Level Regional Food
Security Multi-Stakeholder Policy Dialogue 2011 which was held from 19th to
23rd September 2011 in Mbabane (Swaziland). The theme of this year’s
annual regional dialogue was “Advocating
for the active engagement of the youth in the agriculture value chain
 Top on the agenda was the issue of how
youth can be engaged in achieving food security on the African continent. From
the discussions, it was evident that few youth engage in Agriculture and yet
the continent`s largest population is that of the young people.  Her Majesty, Queen Mother Ntombi, Indlovukazi of Swaziland
received the food security policy leadership award for her role in great role
in Agricultural initiatives in Swaziland including one on the Marula fruit
seed. Read more http://nawsheenh.blogspot.com/2011/09/fanrpan-annual-high-level-regional-food.html
The question that remained on everyone`s mind was how we can make agriculture `Sexy`
and profitable to the youth.

final conference was the second Global Knowledge share Fair http://www.sharefair.net/share-fair-11-rome/about-the-fair/en/
the world mourned world icons like Nobel prize winner Wangari and  Apple`s Steve Jobs how many thought of the
thousand dying of starvation just 
because they cannot afford a meal?
who thinks that youth have a great role to play for the world and most
especially Africa to achieve food security?


“It’s Government’s responsibility to explore all possible ways in which
it can meet its commitment to Education while still maintaining macro-Economics
stability” says James Twehayo the National vice chairperson of Uganda National Teachers
Union (UNATU).
While many public servants in
Uganda seem to be comfortable with their salaries, the teachers on the other
hand are asking Government to increase their salary by 100%. This demand for
salary rise comes in at a time when Uganda is experiencing Runaway
inflation currently rated at 18%. While it is true that all civil servants and
people in other professions are products of education, it is very unfortunate
that this category of very important people who contribute to the welfare of
the Nation by educating the masses is not being well taken care of.
I was privileged to speak to Ms.
Teopista Birungi Mayanja, the General Secretary of Uganda National teachers Union
(UNATU) and a board member of Education International to find out why the
teachers want to lay down their tools if their demands for Salary rise are
not fulfilled by the Government of Uganda.
What is UNATU?
Uganda National Teachers Union
(UNATU) was registered in March 2003 following a merger between Uganda Nationa
Teachers Association(UTA) and Uganda National union of teachers (UNUT). UNATU
is a statutory Organisation registered under the trade Union Act. Currently,
the Union has 80,000 registered memebers out of an approximate potential of
160,000 teachers on Governmant payroll. 
It is affiliated to Education Internaional and
Pan African teachers Centre-PATC
Ms. Birungi emphasised that the theme of UNATU strategic plan is “Teachers
and Quality education, the strategy for change” and that’s why the focus is on
the role of teachers to offer quality public education.  She said that 
this is achieved through 5 strategic areas of intervention:
·        Teacher’s development which mainly focuses on
professionalism and welfare of teachers
     Enhancing access to Quality education for the
children where Access Verses Quality. Much as it is Government’s policy to
increase on the number of children accessing education, it’s also important to
consider the quality of education in terms of content and output.
     Responding to socio-economic and development
issues that affect education like Gender, Nutrition and conflict.  Specifically attending to the role of female
teachers through the Gender and Women empowerment program as well as ‘Support
Education of girls’ programs. This is achieved through trainings, awareness
creation and development of  mobilization skills.
Ms Teopista Birungi Mayanja UNATU General Secretary at her office -Teachers house building, Bombo Rd.

Is there any Role that Civil Society Organisations are playing?

She says that Civil society
Movements are still lacking in this noble cause; it’s important for different
groups and stake holders like parents, churches, tax payer and children to come
together and raise their voices towards national development issues like this
one, because directly or indirectly, it affects each one of us. The government
of Uganda needs to make a lot of reforms especially in the Public service pay.
She also adds that the teachers’ strike is not only about Salary rise but
the general welfare of all teachers in Uganda whose role towards sustainable
development cannot be ignored.

To the children, learners and
Youth, please do understand the issues related to learning and act now.
To Tax payers, please take p your
To Government institutions; It’s
not only the president who represents government. The president is a team
leader or captain but there is a bigger team which include parliament,
ministries and other institutions. Give priority to National development
through human resource development. Do not postpone implementation of policies
that support the education system to avoid sacrificing the learners within a
given regime.
And the elite parents who think
that they can take their children to private/ international schools and have
them admitted to University, must understand that these children cannot work in
isolation in future, so the  majority of
the masses who did not get a similar opportunity will always “pull” them down
because they  will work with them in
future.  Teachers’ working conditions are our issues, what we do to the teachers
is what we choose to put to our children” says Teopista.

Youth, Skills & Employability at the 6th eLearning Conference in Dar es Salaam.

eLearning Africa is a conference and exhibition organised by ICWE GmbH that focuses on information and communication technologies (ICTs) for development, education and training in Africa. Serving as a pan-African platform, eLearning Africa links a network of decision-makers from governments and administrations with universities, schools, governmental and private training providers, industry and important partners in development cooperation. Each year a different country hosts the event. This year’s conference took place in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania from 24th to 28th May 2011 with the theme “Youth, Skills & Employability” and attracted delegates from 90 countries around the world.
This year’s event just like that of 2010 in Zambia was characterized by a photo competition.  The public was called upon  to capture photos on how Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) can nurture talent, skills and innovation across Africa. The public was invited to send in photos that depict outstanding achievements in Africa – empowered by ICTs – or that show innovative ways in which ICTs can foster the development of people, communities and society.  With over 120 images submitted, the following winner emerged 
Blogging and Technology camps for Vulnerable groups
I was privileged to chair a session on “How blogging and Technology camps can empower people at risk, women, girls” The session looked at the story of research about the way ICTs influence how girls and boys, women and men relate to each other in African schools. It also examined how blogs, technology camps and literacy programs can improve the livelihood of rural women, support groups at risk and enable the empowerment of girls.  It includes the following presenters:
Oreoluwa Abiodun Somulu from Nigeria: “Building Blocks: The W.TEC Girls Technology Camp”.
Steven Ouma Otieno from Kenya: “Positive Blogging for groups most at risk”.
Judith Sama from cameroon: Urban-Rural Gender Digital Divide in Selected Schools in Central Africa”
John Stephen Olouch from Kenya on the Role of ICT and Literacy in Achieving Sustainable Livelihoods Among Women, Southern Kenya.
African Women and ICT

Talk with Maureen Agena by Batier

For details about the 6th eLearning conference, please visit:

World Telecommunication & Information Society Day: What are the Priorities?

Today is World Telecommunication & Information Society Day with the theme “Better life in rural communities with ICTs”. Globally, the event is being celebrated in Geneva from 16th – 20 May 2011 with some of the several WSIS 2011 forum stakeholders and organizers being ITU, UNESCO, UNCTAD and UNDP and locally in Uganda, The 2011 World Telecommunications and Information Society day ICT Youth forum is being held at Ndejje University today 17th May 2011 and this initiative is led by Uganda Communications commission (UCC). 
Given the 2011 theme, “Better life in rural communities with ICTs” it’s important to enable access to appropriate information to rural communities through increasing access to ICTs/tools, making content of information and communication relevant,  tailoring programs to different audiences, strengthening & increasing links with new technologies and finally  exchanging information through a stronger and broader network.
What’s its purpose?
The purpose of World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD) is to help raise awareness of the possibilities that the use of the Internet and other information and communication technologies (ICT) can bring to societies and economies, as well as of ways to bridge the digital divide.
17 May marks the anniversary of the signing of the first International Telegraph Convention and the creation of the International Telecommunication Union.” 
What does ICT mean?
There is a misconception that ICTs mean “Computer” and or “Internet”. However, ICTs (Information and Communication Technologies) cover a wide range of tools that enable information Sharing and Networking. These are categorized into: Traditional, Modern and Social/new Networks.  
The traditional ICTs include notice boards, drums, public address systems, posters, newsletters and the modern ones are made of radio, camera, phones, ipods and televisions. The social/New ICTs include networking sites like facebook, twitter, skype, ping etc. All these tools can act as platforms for advocacy and for facilitating networking activities.
Can we adapt traditional & New ICTs to rural Communities’ Actual Needs?
In an attempt to maximise the impact and potential of ICTs for rural communities, appropriate strategies must help integrate them into ongoing activities and programmes like setting up community radio stations in rural areas, exploring the potential of mobile phones and community multimedia/Telecentres to contribute to development action and training members of rural communities on the use of ICTs in addition to sharing best practices. We can adopt both traditional and modern ICTs to the actual needs of rural communities if they are put to best use.
What are the priorities this year’s World Telecommunication & Information Society Day?
Follow the event on tweeter @#WTISD
Read more details here:

Can AFRICANS tell their own story through Social Media?

Highlights of a brief conversation:
Nova Scotian: Hello, Where do you come from? Or Hello, Are you from Africa?
Me: Africa/ yes
Nova Scotian: Oh, which part of Africa
Me: East Africa
Nova Scotian: Which Country
Me: Uganda
Nova Scotian: UGANDA!!!(With a smile)…….Idi Amin and LRA. That’s what it’s known for. Right?
Me: Because that’s what the media portrays. Right?
Nova Scotian: But that’s what we all we know about Uganda.
Me: Really? Never heard of the Rwenzori Mountains or Inzikuru in the Olympics?
Nova Scotian: No
And the conversation goes on and on and on depending on how much the individual knows or is willing to know about Uganda!!
Not one, not two and not even three but many people have asked me that question(Where do you come from/ Are you from Africa?) for the 3 months I have so far spent in Nova Scotia, Canada.  It’s amazing that they ask with lots of enthusiasm and when you mention that you come from Africa, they are quick to ask which part/Country.  I used to take this so lightly but after I noticed a similar response from all those I interacted with and talked to about Africa, I began noticing something funny.
Thirty two (32) years after Idi Amin stopped ruling Uganda, and about seven (7) years after his death, he is remembered and known more than all the presidents who ruled after him. The funniest thing is that he is known for the Tyranny and bloodshed. Second to Idi Amin is the Lord’s Resistance Army (a.k.a LRA) known for abduction, rape as well as cutting off lips and Noses of their victims? When I ask a question like; Is there anything good and positive that you know of, or have ever heard about Uganda? They innocently say no. Some are even quick to add that another bad thing they have heard that is so recent, is that Uganda is a homophobic country. 
The Media: They have the Power to influence and change perception.
I usually get so inquisitive and ask; How do you get to know all these details about Idi Amin, LRA etc yet you have never been to Uganda?, most people say through News. What do you mean by news? I ask. “We watch all that stuff on CNN and BBC is the response I get. Of course they are right and it’s true but what keeps me wondering, is that even after all this time with no Amin and LRA in Uganda, people think that it’s still the case even in 2011. Why is too much emphasis put on such issues? Can’t the news be balanced such that equal emphasis is put on both the good and bad? Just a handful of people know about our beautiful Muchision falls, our conducive weather, our Olympics heros and the fact that we are the ‘pearl of Africa’.  What exactly do professional journalists report about? Or what are they supposed to report? Are there journalists who write positive stories? I would love to meet them.
Can Africans tell their story though social Media to change negative perception?
Ivorycoast, then Tunisia, followed by Egypt then Libya took  over the news headlines despite the fact that Yemen, and Morrocco were in similar situations, A week later Japan  made news headlines with the earthquake that has claimed approximately 10,000 lives…..and the stories go on to celebrities like Lady Gaga visiting Google offices and Taylor Elizabeth passing on. That is main stream media for you! So what am I supposed to watch or listen to and follow with all this news coming up?
And who alerts the media houses about the situation? It’s the citizen Journalists through social sites like twitter, youtube and facebook which are now accessible on many mobile phones.  With more citizens owning phones and accessing internet, can Africans now tell their own story to the world? Can we have more African Journalists (both professional and citizen) reporting good things about Africa like the Americans and Europeans do about America and Europe? Can African Journalist produce documentaries featuring African Icons and heros that we can watch and feel proud of?  What about Africans in the diaspora who are contributing so much to these already developed countries socially, economically and politically, what are their stories?  I seem to have more questions. What do you think?


For the past three days, I have been thinking so hard about the outcome of the elections in Uganda after watching on Television the revolutions in the middleEast that saw former Tunisian and Egyptian presidents Ben Ali and Mubarak being forced out of power by the people they were supposed to lead. The reasons are always the same; Chronic Corruption, unemployment and dictatorship among others. 
As I sat in my room at school in St. Mary’s Halifax  a small town in Canada’s Ocean Playground, I could not keep my eyes off my laptop for updates that came in from facebook friends and twips. I kept looking out for updates on newspapers/magazines in Uganda like the Kampala Dispatch, The Independent and Daily Monitor.
On the social websites these were some of the tweets and topics that filled my friends’ status updates.
·         Uganda bans SMS texting of key words during poll ‘Egypt’, ‘bullet’, ‘people power’ etc
·         Museveni making personal calls to voters on their mobile phones just before elections
·         UPC flag Presidential Candidate Mr. Olara Otunnu did not vote for himself
·         Presidential candidates’ names missing on voters lists
·         Fights and scandals by some members of political parties like Mafabi
·         Gender discrimination in politics analysis. Only men analysing elections
·         Updates of polling results from different stations
·         Being reminded to use #ugandavotes as the tweeter Hash tag
·         Heavily guarded streets of Kampala
·         And finally about some prominent Members of parliament who have lost their seats.
As I read all these real time updates from youthful friends that I personally know, I was praying that peace prevails during this time. And from the updates that I am still reading, the situation seems to be okay.
Politics has never been something of interest to me, though I know that am affected by the outcome in one way or another. My focus is on how ICTs especially social networks have played a significant role to keep me updated about the situation in my home country.
What does Foreign Media report about African?
At first, I thought that by watching Television (CTV and CBS) here in Halifax, I would  get some good information about what was going on in Uganda. However, I was not surprised when it was not even mentioned anywhere in the news bulletin for the number of times I happened to be watching. This got me thinking that ”What if Kony the LRA rebel leader had abducted people in Uganda” maybe that would have made news. Unbothered by that, I resorted to one of my best companions, MY LAPTOP. With  the super fast internet here, all I had to do was open as many windows with websites and readily access information about the election progress. Twitter was first on the list, Facebook, the independent Newpaper,The Kampala Dispatch and The Daily Monitor. I must confess that I was shocked but at the same time impressed by the number of people who were tweeting using the #ugandavotes tag.  It was because of this that I was inspired to quickly write this blog post.
State of Technology in Uganda is still wanting:
Also the fact that Mr. Museveni’s (Probably through an automated voice) personal call to people who are subscribed to Mobile Telephone Network (MTN) showed that he had finally appreciated the role of ICTs and will this time (if declared president, which is most likely according to the statistics coming in ),appoint an ICT minister who understands the urgency with which Uganda has to catch up with the rest of the world in terms of technology and not for the sake of appointing.
I did not personally have an opportunity to cast my vote, because the nearest Uganda Embassy is in Ottawa and that required a flight. Just imagine a situation where I could vote online and my note remains valid regardless of my location. That’s the Uganda we want to see with the new president.
Mr. New President my concluding Request is :  Please appoint a New and different minister for Education and Sports as well as another one for ICT, I will be very thankful.
Thanks  Rosebell Idaltu Kagumire for the constant updates on your facebook, blog and Twitter accounts.

DISABILITY is not INABILITY: Women,ICTs and Disability in Northern Uganda

“I am not good at videography especially editing but I believe you will all get the message clearly.”
The convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPF) was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 13 December 2006. A major milestone for all persons living with disabilities around the world, it is the 8th Universal Convention on Human Rights of  which majority of International Telecommunication Union (ITU) member States are signatories to the convention.
Article 9 of the CRPD defines ICT accessibility as an integral part of accessibility rights on par with transportation and physical environment for PWDs. There are indeed so many challenges for PWDs to realize their fundamental Human Right of access to information especially in the developing countries
These challenges include but are not limited to;
  • · Low education levels of  PWDs especially in the developing countries,
  • Absence of assistive technologies to help even the educated PWDs,
  • The absence of clear intervention strategies by governments, local disability leadership and other    stakeholders to save the situation,
  • The fact that majority PWDs live in the most rural parts of Africa and therefore can’t be covered by the available ICTs.
And although the Mobile telephone technology is greatly improving accessibility to information in Africa, its applicability for use by people with disabilities is still highly wanting. There are barriers to accessibility mainly because of the different designs of  ICT tools used by people in the mainstream which are not adaptable for use by the PWDs.
In one of the resent trainings for PWDs in Gulu which was organized by Women of Uganda Network with an aim to increase civil society organisations’ use of  and interaction with various forms of media especially PWDs who since time immemorial have been left out of ICT related programs and projects, I was privileged to facilitate a number of session on how ICTs can be used by and for PWDs. The training took place at Gulu Union of Persons with Disability on December 2010 and it was specifically offered to Gulu Landmine Survivors, A local Women’s group in Gulu. The level of enthusiasm and zeal portrayed by the woman was overwhelming. They were eager to learn, listen, implement and share. They wanted to share their stories with the entire world and be heard.
I was drawn to two particular participants, Ms. Adong Lucy a blind Woman and Ms. Jenifer Arach a deaf and dumb Youth. For Lucy, being disabled was not the issue, her issues was about the unfriendliness of ICT tools towards the PWDs especially the blind. She cited an example of airtime cards which are very user unfriendly to the blind. She said that Telecommunication Companies should be sensitive to the PWDs and produce airtime cards with the digits written in braille. In this way, even a blind person would be in position to load credit to their phone without being manipulated. In this video, Lucy shared with me why ICTs have to be user friendly to PWDs.

Jenifer Arach a youth from Gulu on the other hand said that despite the fact that she is a school dropout dumb and deaf, she is very interested in learning especially typing. She said that she wants to own a phone to ease her communication (Mainly SMS) and to increase on her networking opportunities. She shared her story with me.

Why the need to improve web/ICT accessibility for PWDs
Since time immemorial, PWDs all over the word are faced with the problem of exclusion and Isolation. This has contributed to their low levels of education therefore exclusion from majority of social services. During this training, it was noted that there is need to improve ICT accessibility for PWDs and this could be done through the following suggested ways:
·   Easy access to the web which can be used for news, information, commerce & entertainment among others though aiding devices like the Braile for the blind and speech software.
·       Adopting new technologies like real time captioning which is very relevant for the deaf.
·        Using other assistive technologies like mobile phones which are speech and visual aided. 
Proposals and plans of actions Identified at an ITU/UCC workshop held in 2010 in Kampala to address these challenges;
a) As a means of inclusion of persons with disabilities in the development of infrastructure; it was proposed that a universal access fund for Infrastructure especially geared to underprivileged areas, and disadvantaged groups including women, youth and persons with disabilities be established;
b) Governments in partnership with civil society should  increase opportunities for training of women and persons with disabilities through education, training and human resource development taking into account special consideration of underprivileged areas;
c) As part of policy development process, the participation of women and other disadvantaged groups should be facilitated and encouraged in the ICT policy development and implementation process.

I weep for my nation Uganda: Our Education system is failing us.

I only heard, learned and studied about them in high school back in Africa; The Atlantic Ocean, the snow, the Hudson bay, Appalachians …….. e.t.c and now  am right here seeing them with my very own eyes and having the actual picture of what I only had an opportunity, to see in text books and on Television some years ago. Yes, I am writing this from Nova Scotia Canada.
When I left Uganda on 1st January 2011 for North America, in pursuit of a Masters’ degree, all I could think about was, what lay ahead of me and how I would cope with the new education system which I believed was so different from that in Africa, specifically Uganda.

Just one week and a half into the semester at St. Mary’s University Halifax, http://www.smu.ca/ My thoughts are turning into reality. The education system, the style of lecturing and the reading culture are not only different from those in Uganda but far way advanced.  On the first day of my class, I missed two lectures because I was not up to speed. I was still figuring out how to register myself online for the courses I was supposed to take, which I did not complete in time to attend both lectures. When I finally got registered and started attending my very first class (Human and Computer interaction), I was impressed by the method of teaching, it was so inclusive, participatory and practical (though with gender issues in terms of students taking on the course). It even involved live streaming of vidoes on Youtube  about the importance of  observing human behavior when planning to design a system . See highlight of Vidoes 

Lots of interesting sessions followed.
But the only thing that came to my mind was Uganda’s education system. It’s true that it  experienced a major expansion when it started implementing the Universal Primary Education programme in 1997. Enrollment figures increased enormously and there are now about 8 million children enrolled in Primary schools but quality didn’t improve at the same speed. Current characteristics of education in Uganda include high absenteeism rates for pupils and teachers (up to 20%), low completion rate (54%) especially for girls, prevalent violence against children in schools and lack of sanitation (1 latrine for 66 pupils)-UNICEF, Kampala. I just had to lament to myself.
Until now, even as I write this short blog, I can’t help but weep for a nation full of young energetic and brilliant citizens whose energy is wasted as a result of unemployment that stems from the poor education system (FYI, I have been through the whole system) and who are being slowly but surely weakened and killed by the AIDS epidemic.
“The HIV/AIDS epidemic in Uganda: 1.2 million HIV-positive adults, 150,000 HIV-positive children, 120,000 new infections per year, 64,000 deaths per year, 6-7% of adults HIV-positive, 350,000 in need of antiretroviral drugs and 1.2 million Orphans due to AIDS”
As a young woman, I will devote my time and energy to try and help fellow young people in my country change the future of our nation. FOR GOD AND MY COUNTRY!

Information Poverty: A barrier to Agricultural Productivity in Rural areas.

The agricultural sector is one of the most under exploited in many African Countries today. In Uganda alone, about 80% of the now approximately 32 million people http://data.worldbank.org/country/uganda  are rural based and depend almost entirely on Agriculture at various Levels of livelihood.
Information poverty is the absolute lack of accurate and timely Agricultural information to effect positive change in this case in the Agriculture Sector. Much as it is believed by many, that access to timely information by rural communities cannot only increase agricultural productivity but enhance social and economic development, many farmers in rural areas lack even the basic access to information.
Can ICTs bridge the Information Poverty gap?
Technologies affects all aspects of life be it social, economic or political. It’s therefore important to understand the role technology can play in Agriculture; to increase productivity, reduce costs as well as increase on the customer base. ICTs have been used as enablers in other sectors like Education, Entrepreneurship, health and sports but their adoption, usage and application in Agriculture is low despite the big role agriculture plays in society.
The inability to access accurate and timely information by rural farmers on climate change, market prices and best practices has negatively affected the final out put in terms of yields and profits. ICTs can play a big role is solving the problem of information poverty among rural farmers. The mobile phone whose penetration into Africa alone is over 500M http://ht.ly/37Ks7 a hand tool that can be used for several purposes because of its ability to combine text, Audio and Video functionality in addition to its ability to cut across literacy levels(Farmers are able to communicate in their local languages). The community radios, Telecenters/Information resource centre and print Media like farmer Magazines are all ICTs that farmers can use to access agricultural information.

MobileActive Video: Mobile phones in rural development & agriculture

Way Forward

Despite a number of challenges faced by the Agricultural sector, there are some things to consider inorder to bridge the Agricultural divide. Some of them are;
·          -Actively involving the Youth in Agricultural initiatives because being the biggest users of ICTs, their potential can be tapped into to divert their skills to Agriculture. They need to start looking at Agriculture as a source of income(Agrobusiness) and not as a dirty job like it has been potryed to them.
·         The agricultural projects must be very Gender sensitive right from the start. In most African Counties, women dominate in agricultural production yet the men do lots of marketing. It’s important to let each Gender play a role right from production to marketing in order to achieve Agricultural food security.
·         Agriculturalists need to work very closely with Journalists. Media plays a very big role in changing the perception people have towards agriculture as a dirty job and a sector of failures. Since journalists set the news agenda, they have to be well informed such that they can document agricultural success stories and stop focusing on only agricultural disasters like famine and floods.
·         Take advantage of New and social media to educate, inform, motivate and involve a number of different stakeholders about the role agriculture can play in economic development of society.