How can we make the best use of agricultural technology to achieve food security? Is there still a role for older technologies and for traditional approaches? Or embracing industrial production systems should be the way forward?
Peter Steele from FAO Cairo is raising this topic inviting members and anyone interested to share their views. At the background of the debate lies the African context, where the challenges and potentials are huge and where, unlike Asia, a green revolution, with its pros and cons, never took place.
With over 10,400,000 citizens connected to mobile phones in Uganda (according to International Communication Union) over 5,000,000 browsing internet daily and millions tuning into more than 228 fm radio stations broadcasting in local languages – Do we still need the kind of cooperatives that operated in 1970’s and 1980s to connect farmers and small businesses to markets? Calls for revival of Cooperatives are a hot and rehearsed issue, amongst, especially opposition politicians and operatives. Possibly bending a bit to pressure, government rebranded the Ministry to Trade Tourism and Industry to Ministry of Trade and Cooperatives! Alas- this Cooperative narrative needs to be re-imagined in current Uganda. We need to be talking about new ways of organizing and governing markets. If old cooperatives don’t change, what is left of them will soon disappear.
Uganda has only 1600 extension workers mandated to serve 4,000, 000 million farmer households in Uganda giving a ratio of 1: 2500 farmer households.
The rural nature of most farms remains a challenge to graduate and fresh extension workers from college as these fresh professionals often prefer enjoying the trappings of peri-urban life.
How do we crack this state of affairs? Do we leave solutions to policy makers and technocrats? Do we call for reinstatement and restoration of regional district farm demonstrations and stock farms?
A solution may perhaps lie in a stronger role of the private sector such as engaging in public –private partnerships and embracing technology. There is a pool of Extension Link farmers that were in late 1990’s trained by Uganda National Farmers Federation all over Uganda. Mobile phones technology can be used to complement extension efforts. Could such a model bring down the current expansive farmer-extension worker ratio and abridge the current information gap at the farm level?
Given the rapid expansion of the internet and the increasing number of users, including in the global South, the full potential of online platforms for promoting inclusive consultation of issues of high global interest is certainly not yet realised. An online discussion is being organised to share views and perspectives on how online platforms could be used more creatively and effectively to share experiences on a key area where information and lessons learned through various interventions from around the world are generally dispersed, that is the area of monitoring women’s land rights.
The objective of the online discussion is therefore twofold: (a) engage a collective reflection on ways of optimising the use of online platforms in efforts to promote equitable and sustainable natural governance and social justice; and, (b) to share experiences on approaches to monitoring women’s land rights.