The benefits and challenges of using ICTs to strengthen university-farming community engagement in Uganda

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Henry Opolot Nakelet
Prossy Isubikalu
Bernard Obaa Bonton
Peter Ebanyat
Dorothy Okello
Drake Patrick Mirembe

Abstract

Agricultural Universities like many other organizations have used conventional communication channels in sharing information with farmers and other stakeholders. There are however increased limitations of ensuring real-time and sustainable exchange of relevant information and knowledge between researchers, extension workers, farmers and other stakeholders. Integration of information communication technologies (ICTs) in communication has been found to facilitate timely, efficient and cost effective information sharing in agriculture. Makerere University piloted the development of an information and communication technology (ICT) mechanism to enable farmers’ to access information from a University information centre. This study aimed at understanding the factors influencing the application of the ICT-based information exchange model for strengthening university-farming community engagement in a pilot project between Makerere University and farming communities in northern Uganda. Qualitative data were collected from 30 project farmers, project managers and the system designers at the university through key informant interviews. The study findings suggest that successful integration of ICTs in the information pathways is important in enhancing timely information sharing between universities, farmers and other stakeholders. Universities have a unique advantage of having a broad array of expertise and students to run an agricultural ICT platform. Partnering with relevant agricultural organizations from whom to access and integrate relevant information would improve the quality of content shared with farmers. 

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