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Rural ICT: A boon for farmers

So far, the government has set aside 48bn/- to finance the first phase of the project which is expected to benefit more than 1.6 million people in 152 wards across the country.The Universal Communication Access Fund (UCSAF) Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Engineer Peter Ulanga, was quoted by the media over the weekend as saying that ground work such as scouting for a company that will provide the service has been done.

Arguably, the project would provide the opportunity for people living in rural areas to connect with the outside world. This means that they would be exposed more to business opportunities coupled with market and price updates for their livestock and agricultural produce.Since the nation got her independence about 51 years ago, peasant farmers have been on the losing end as they could not negotiate on better prices for lack of reliable information about markets and demand.

This shortfall has been the major factor that has often frustrated efforts by various stakeholders, including the government, to help famers get out of abject poverty.For example: Farmers in the top maize producing regions known as the Big Four (Rukwa, Ruvuma, Mbeya and Iringa) have been selling their produce at a giveaway price for lack of reliable information about markets in other parts of the country.

As a result, some selfish traders have always capitalized on this by exploiting them.It is also a fact that agriculture, which accounts for over 80 per cent of the country's revenues, would still remain stagnant for many years if farmers are not supported through capacity building to enable them negotiate for better prices and also get knowledge on how to apply better farming methods.

Therefore, any effort that seeks helping farmers access knowledge that will improve their ability to change positively deserves praise because it offers a permanent solution to the myriad of problems that they face. And given the slow progress in reducing poverty, the country is unlikely to meet the targets for MDG1 in 2015.

So, the current efforts by the government to address key problems that face peasant farmers in rural areas is a timely boost towards reducing poverty levels.

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Author: EDITOR

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