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Internet Must Be Accessible, Affordable & Reliable For E-Agriculture Solutions To Work- Tumwebaze

Minister Frank Tumwebaze giving his remarks

 Frank K. Tumwebaze, Uganda’s Minister Of Agriculture, Animal Industry And Fisheries has said all players in the e-agriculture innovation ecosystem (Innovators start-ups, policy makers & farmers) must discuss and agree on what broadband policies can work for all to ensure universal connectivity.

The Minister made the remarks on Wednesday February 8, 2023 during the ongoing Africa-Korea Agtech Innovation Summit in Nairobi, Kenya.

“You can’t achieve digital inclusion and adoption without affordability & access to reliable broadband. Correct policies on broadband penetration need to be discussed with special emphasis on making data/internet a public good the way water and electricity are. Data/internet must be accessible, affordable and reliable,” Tumwebaze said, adding that deliberate policy incentives that promote affordability of Digital devices (smart phones & not feature phones) with Wi-Fi enabled applications must be written and implemented by the ministries responsible for ICT.

He adds that internet service providers (ISPs) need to be strictly regulated on issues of quality of service.

The Minister further says the e-agriculture solutions and starts ups must be highly effective yet simple to learn so as to easily facilitate uptake among the targeted clientele (farmers) which has most majority without much IT skills.

He says there’s also need to facilitate linkages between farmers and e-agriculture start-ups such that the former can appreciate that the latter have a solution for them.

According to Tumwebaze, there’s also need to facilitate linkages between agricultural research institutions and e-agriculture Innovators so as to create an integrated agri-research and tech ecosystem.

“If every Agricultural research product to be released is to have an integrated IT (e-agriculture) solution/component, farmers will easily get along,” the Minister said, adding that Ministries of agriculture need to appreciate and understand the role of technology in disease control, climate change mitigation, instant farmer advisory to compensate for gaps in extension systems, traceability and thus design policies & strategic plans that prioritize use of digital technologies in the entire Agriculture value chains .

“With the support of the World Bank, Uganda is currently implementing the e-voucher system to link farmers to inputs with the objective of ensuring quality of inputs & traceability issues since you can see who has supplied & who has bought. You also know how crucial traceability is in building confidence among the large market players,” Tumwebaze said.

He noted that the above issues of lack of universal connectivity continue to affect the system’s efficiency.

“This two-day summit, therefore, presents us an opportunity to discuss and agree together on how to tackle these bottlenecks. We need positive and not negative technology disruption. So when we talk about disruption, let’s emphasize the positive change side that comes with it. That is how we shall enable our not-so-good ICT literate/skilled populations to see advantages of tech,” Tumwebaze concluded his speech.

Taddewo William Senyonyi
William is a seasoned business and finance journalist. He is also an agripreneur and a coffee enthusiast.

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