Around 965 farmers in Burera District are being provided with smartphones as part of the Connect Rwanda initiative to tackle the main obstacles that hinder farming productivity.
Burera District, in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI) and the Ministry of ICT and Innovation (MINICT), is currently working to address several challenges in the development of the agriculture and animal resources sector. These challenges include the lack of technology, poor entrepreneurial skills, and a shortage of skilled veterinarians.
Community Animal Health Workers and Agro Promoters, among others, who are relied upon by other farmers for support and advice, have been provided with smartphones on different occasions. They are also seen as role models for others.
Théoneste Niyonambaza, a resident of Kagogo Sector, Nyamabuye Cell, is engaged in pig farming. Despite being a 25-year-old TVET graduate in construction, he is facing financial difficulties and is unable to purchase a smartphone due to his business struggles.
He stated that he frequently advises his neighbours on farming, and having a smartphone will enable him to gain more knowledge about modern farming through the internet. He plans to share this newfound knowledge with others, making use of WhatsApp groups to facilitate easier interaction.
Alvera Nyiramukiza, Niyonambaza’s neighbour, expressed her enthusiasm for the programme, describing it as a game changer. With a smile on her face, she expressed her hope to minimise unnecessary movements.
“It is going to be a response to my daily activities; I have experienced significant setbacks due to a lack of technology skills. Life and business will undergo a digital transformation,” she said.
According to Rwanda Agriculture Board’s Dieudonné Mugiraneza at Rwerere Station, and Olivier Niyomugabo, the Project Manager for ‘Orora Wihaze’ in Burera District, access to technology is essential regarding self-training, and sharing information such as such outbreak of strange illnesses.
Jean Baptiste Nshimyimana, the Vice Mayor for Economic Development and Acting Mayor of the district, stated that farmers are being given smartphones as an added opportunity to enhance their yield. This initiative complements the trainings they have previously received under the ‘Orora Wihaze’ programme.
He emphasized the significance of farmers having smartphones to enhance their knowledge about weather conditions, climate change, information sharing, and learning from fellow farmers through technology.
Nshimyimana is optimistic that by increasing their production, particularly of small livestock, it will aid in addressing malnutrition and stunting.
Over the course of three years, a total of 1,300 smartphones were distributed among the residents of Burera, categorized according to their needs.
The New Times