USING INTERNET INCREASES REVENUE OF UGANDAN FARMERS DECENT STANDARDS OF LIVELIHOOD FOR FIFTY THOUSAND POOR FAMILIES AND FIVE HUNDRED NEW JOBS FOR YOUNG PEOPLE. THESE ARE TWO OF THE MAIN GOALS OF SAU FOR THE COMING FIVE YEARS. SAU STANDS FOR SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE UGANDA. DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY PLAYS A KEY PART.
The plan is to place containers set up as offices in various places in the north-east of Uganda. The local population can go to these information centers for trade, advice and training. The centers unlock a world of outlets, expertise and innovations. The centers are set up with computers connected to the internet. Solar panels provide electricity. The containers are easy to place. This makes it possible to put them in the places that need them the most.
Through the computers in the information centers, the farmers have access to a digital market. This online platform connects them to a market that is much larger than the local village or regional on increasing their yield and sustainability. This involves the choice of certain seeds, crops and ways of working the soil. For instance, ploughing can dehydrate the soil. More and more farmers are choosing not to loosen the soil, but to cover it with leaves and the remains of plants. This helps the ground retain water for longer and keeps the earth fertile. There is also a lot of focus on preservation and the planting of new trees. Trees are crucial in preventing erosion.
In the information center the workers, together with the local community, will not only look at the soil of individual farmers, but also at the total area. The goal is to ensure that the land will also be a source of income for future generations. Weak and promising plots of land are charted based on satellite images and field research. The conclusion might be that the community needs to spare certain areas and that other areas offer unused opportunities. The mission of the centers is to contribute to farmers being more in tune with the consequences of climate change. Trainings focus on decreasing their dependence on set periods of rain. Advice on stronger crops and more diversity significantly decrease the vulnerability of families.
Development organization ALIN has a lot of experience working with high tech information centers in containers. They have successful centers in various African countries. SAU is building on the development begun by this organization. The advantage of computers is that workers can use online video materials. This makes training and advice accessible to the illiterate.
SAU is a concept first developed in the north-east of Uganda. For a long time this area was the scene of a civil war. Looting warlords ruled the area for years. Due to the continuing danger, people locked themselves away in their villages and agriculture ground to a halt. Illiteracy and youth unemployment are big issues. And due to climate change, the rainfall has become less regular. Agriculture has become harder and less rewarding.
Most farmers only produce enough for their own family. Meanwhile the population growth is causing an increased demand for food. In the past years peace has returned to the area. People are daring to work their land again. Emergency aid has become less necessary and opportunities for development are arising. A high-quality mobile internet has become available in the area. Only a minimal part of the population uses the world wide web to make money.