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Farmers who have been relying on indigenous knowledge to do farming, have every reason to smile as a new technology has been launched that will tell them when it will rain and when to plant.
Market-led, User-owned ICT4Ag-enabled Information Service (MUIIS) is an innovative project that harnesses the power of satellite data to support extension and advisory services to farmers in Uganda.
MUIIS is working to develop and market a bundle of agricultural information products through SMS and smartphone apps to enable Ugandan farmers to access satellite-based crop advice.
While launching MUIIS recently, the chief of party, Carol Kyazze Kakooza, said the critical component is the capacity building activities of farmer organisations to own the information service and provide advisory services to their members.
Kakooza said the project will essentially provide agricultural extension advisory services to farmers by pooling all the right components together - the data, the knowledge and the information - through the appropriate technologies.
“Unlike traditional extension projects, MUIIS will be wide-reaching, with information and advice available at the swipe of a screen,” she said.
She said the project intends to teach farmers to examine how new innovations can empower smallholder farmers, and the entire value chains that support them, through the use of information and communication technologies.
Kakooza added that although climate change presents complex challenges for farmers of all ages, using technology to access community-driven networks can help control some of the challenges.
The project is so far in 52 districts across the country and is expected to reach 350,000 farmers with access to mobile phones to find information on weather, agronomic, insurance and trend analysis and market prices.
The director of crop resources at Ministry of Agriculture, Dr Okaasai Opolot said the mobile application will help farmers decide when and how to plant crops, select the best crops for a given location using climate and weather data, and connect to the available market.
The chief guest, Anno Galema, the first secretary, food security and private sector development, the Netherlands embassy, said MUIIS will contribute to improved food security and increase resilience to climate change.
HOW IT WORKS
To access these services, farmers must be profiled and once profiled, dial *270*67# to access the platform on any type of phone, the MUIIS service bundle will include weather information, index drought insurance and Agronomic tips (including trend analysis and marker prices). Kakooza said MUIIS will bundle four products into one service to farmers at a cost of Shs14,000 per season with a sum insured of Shs299,000 in case of drought.