How ICTs are Shaping the Agricultural Landscape in Uganda

James Kisoro 1*, Joel Winyi2, Doreen Muhumuza3, and Emmanuel Lyada4
Presented at NARO-MAK Joint Conference – 2016, 21st – 24th November 2016, Speke Resort Munyonyo, Kampala (Uganda)

Abstract

African countries have seen decades of futile attempts to shift from the agricultural sector. Based on experiences from western countries, poorly developed countries, were being pushed to strive for economic diversification through the transformation of their economies with decreased dependence on the indigenous sector (Ansoms, 2008).However, these economies remain agrarian, with the sector accounting for 15% of the continent’s GDP, employing 90% of the rural workforce and 60% of the total labor force (urban and rural) , contributing as much as 40% of export earnings and providing over 50% of household incomes (UNECA, 2007; McKinsey, 2011). With this low contribution to growth, however, Africa’s arable land makes 40% of arable land globally, while only 10% is cultivated (EIU, 2012). This is largely due to the fact that the sector has received less attention, especially in the areas deemed critical to its development from national growth, hence the poor performance of the sector. The agricultural sector is faced with a big challenge of enhancing massive production to feed a growing and prosperous population in an environment of decreasing availability of natural resources. Water shortages, declining soil fertility, effects of climate change and rapid decrease of fertile agricultural lands due to urbanization, shortage of critical rural infrastructure, inadequate access to advanced technologies, limited access to affordable financing, markets and unfair market conditions, high production and transport costs, low skills among others.

Often there is 30% or fewer shares in GDP for agriculture which shows low productivity in the sector. (OECD, UNDP, AfDB and UNECA, 2012). Over the past few decades, agricultural production and yields have lagged behind in developing countries despite the role played by agricultural development (Aker, 2011). One of the important forces in agricultural transformation in countries such as China and Korea was the huge investment in transport and communication infrastructures especially ICT’s, apart from emphasis on research and extension, irrigation systems and storage facilities which are all essential in raising productivity (UNECA, 2012). Countries that welcome and invest in technologies that are suitable for their circumstances will be able to sustain growth and be competitive. Strategic application of ICT’s to the agricultural sector in developing countries of Africa offers the best opportunity for economic growth and poverty alleviation on the continent (World Bank, AfDB, ArC, 2012).