By George Aine
The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has set aside funds to support 35 students in developing agricultural apps that will boost agricultural productivity in the country.
The pledge was made by Mr. Fred Otunnu, the Director of Corporate Affairs at UCC, while officiating at the ongoing Hackathon at Uganda Technology and Management (UTAMU) in Bugolobi, Kampala, last week.
Without stating the specific amount earmarked for the programme, Mr Otunnu said they will link the students to the ICT support information programme from government and take them through the incubation hubs which will help them develop their ideas further.
“We shall be supporting the group in different ways and we plan to give them some money which we hope to raise from different sources into one pool,” he said.
Mr Otunnu said that although 70 percent of the Ugandan population is involved in agriculture, technological advancement in the sector remains a challenge.
“Agriculture is the backbone of Uganda but little attention is given to it. I would like to commend UTAMU for choosing a theme in this theme and I look forward to seeing many applications attempting to solve challenges in agriculture,” Mr Otunnu said.
He revealed that technology is already transforming certain parts of the world by providing farmers with real-time information. He revealed some of the apps that are already in use by farmers.
“Some of the apps made are Jaguza Livestock App, which helps connect livestock and cattle keepers to veterinary doctors so that they can quickly respond to issues identified in a farm. The app has a component for farmers to track the health of animals. The M- Omulimisa app provides smallholder farmers with real-time farming information and solution written in local languages via mobile technology and the Agromarket day app which connects available market and eliminates middlemen from farming value chain,” he said.
Mr. Grace Musimami, the spokesperson of the Ugandan Farmers Federation, said the apps have improved productivity and urged students to create more.
“We have been having some apps on market but if we get better and improved ones, it will be helpful for us. The production level and the level of some of our products are still down as compared to other countries. This will help the farmers since we have seen them grapple with the problem,” Mr Musimami said.
Prof Benon Basheka, the Vice Chancellor of UTAMU, said the intention of the Hackathon is to improve the agriculture of the country technologically.
“We will encourage the winners further by awarding them at the end of the competition. We shall get the best participants and give them money and different opportunities to grow their skill,” Prof Basheka said.
The hackathon is running under the theme “Innovation space in Agriculture using ICTs” and the purpose of the initiative is to increase “awareness of ICT in solving agricultural sector challenges facing developing countries.”
University of Johannesburg, UTAMU, Makerere University, Kyambogo University, Makerere University Business School (MUBS), Busitema, Muni University, Cavendish University and Kampala International University, among others are taking part in the event that ends on August 3.