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By Dee-Dee Atta (Service Provider Marketing Manager, Cisco)
Rural farmers struggle to maintain livelihoods because they do not have access to valuable information across the community and in open markets.By providing Mobile Internet capabilities, rural farmers have tools to participate in a community of educational resources related to crop production and learn more about which markets have a demand for specific products. As a result, rural farmers have the ability to share best-practices on pest control, irrigation and crop rotation as well as gain access to open markets to sell produce. Through access to an interactive, virtual community, farmers can take advantage of new opportunities for population sustainability.
Uganda, with a current population of 35 million (source:Central Intelligence Agency), is expected to have the highest population growth (source: Worldwatch Institute) in the world in the next few decades. Eighty-six percent of the population is considered rural (source: Trading Economics) and 82 percent (source:Farm Africa) depends on agriculture as their main source of income. Yet more than 50 percent of Ugandans live in poverty without reliable access to food. This is one of the reasons why the average life expectancy in Uganda is fifty-four years old (source:Farm Africa). There is the need for Ugandans to increase the value of their harvests through better farming practices and simple processing of any surplus they produce. Farming communities are essential to this objective where people can engage with partners and crop buyers to help them earn a sustainable living.
By providing the Mobile Internet, Service Providers are connecting previously unconnected people to resources and information which helps improve rural farmer productivity and livelihoods. In Middle East and Africa, consumer mobile traffic will grow 19-fold from 2012 to 2017, a compound annual growth rate of 80%. (source: Cisco VNI May 2013). When Service Providers enable the Mobile Internet, businesses like the Grameen Foundation and the MTN group can create programs like the Community Knowledge Network(CKN). The CKN support structure allows organizations with advanced agriculture knowledge to connect with and assist rural farmers. CKN leverages a database of agricultural information packaged into a simple and actionable format. This allows the trusted community workers to easily transmit the information over mobile devices.
Through these connections, rural farmers now have access to valuable information such as which crops to plant, when to plant, how to prevent/treat crop diseases and where they can earn the most from selling their produce. Because Service Providers enabled the Internet of Everything (IoE) to connect people to each other, agriculture data and mobile devices, rural farming in Uganda is more productive and effective and rural farmers can make better decisions and enjoy a better quality of life.
Read Community Knowledge Network’s full story submission here