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Friday, April 27, 2012

YES, WE SHALL EMBRACE ICT IN DEVELOPMENT

RIC-NET has taken a step in the establishment of another E-society center in the Rwenzori region. This comes after a presentation this morning (27th April 2012) to the District Technical Planning Committee (TPC) Kamwenge about the establishment of this Electronic center.

 Speaking to the TPC, the Executive Director RIC-NET highlighted the background of this project and that it is being implemented to facilitate information sharing and accountability using ICT. He explained a number of elements and issues that would be involved in the set-up of this center. Among others were;
 • Provision of ICT equipment and internet connectivity to the District for this center
 • Design and development of online platforms like the District website, E-library, CSOs portal to mention but a few.
 • Provision of technical staff for the period the project is to be run in the District.
 • Trainings in computer literacy and internet He also stressed that the District would need to commit herself to this noble cause by providing space for the center, furniture, avail information to enable the development of the website and also a contact person who would be in charge to avail information and guide where necessary.
 He further went ahead and told the Kamwenge District TPC that an M.O.U (Memorandum of Understanding) has to be signed between the two parties committing themselves to this project.
The E-society project has so far been implemented in the Districts of Kasese and Kabarole.

 In his remarks the Deputy Chief Administrative officer Mr.Kandole Simon Peter appreciated the efforts by RIC-NET to take this service to the District. He said the District was in much support of this idea that they would fully support this project. Members embraced this and were also concerned if the internet connectivity would be extended to their offices.
However responding to the concerns the ED RIC-NET informed members that if this would happen then the District would meet the charges but RIC-NET is dedicated to provide technical support and that its area of concern was the Electronic center fully furnished.

A member of the TPC Mr. Binyina (planning Unit) was selected to be focal for this project and the suggestion was that a member of staff from RIC-NET travels to Kamwenge on 3rd May 2012 to share M.O.U draft and finalise with other few issues.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

PLANT CLINICS TAKE ROOT IN UGANDA

Plant Clinics are a must have because they support the extension worker with the tools and confidence to support the farmer, thus the necessity to have them equipped and operational” thus asserted the Commissioner from the Crop Pest Protection Unit of the Ministry of Agriculture Mr. Komushana… during a PlantWise stakeholder forum organized by CABI PlantWise Uganda at Africana Hotel, Kampala on 19.04.12 PlantWise is a collaborative initiative led by the Center for Agriculture and biosciences International (CABI), which brings together plant science organizations, agriculture ministries and extension providers to help them develop sustainable national plant health systems where community based Plant Clinics provide practical advice to small holder farmers when they need it. The purpose of the forum was to get PlantWise stakeholders together to share their different work plans and also map out a joint strategy on how to boost Plant Clinic operations in the Country. Participants at this forum included MAAIF, NAADs, NARO, SOCADIDO, RIC-NET, Self Help Africa-SHA, Makerere University, AFAAs among others. Speaking at the meeting, Commissioner Komushana noted that Government just like private and institutions is geared at improving food security and the lives of the smallholder farmers in Uganda and as thus both have captured Agriculture productivity increase in their development agendas. He expressed gratitude over the Plant Clinic initiative saying if well supported it should help in pest and disease surveillance, and also help to detect and inform the farmer and government on time about any likely pests and disease outbreaks. The Commissioner also informed the meeting that, given the importance of Plant Clinics, the Ministry was already working with the NAADs Secretariat to ensure that this concept is incorporated in the NAADs activities. Sharing, their work plans several partners like NARO, SOCADIDO, RIC-NET, Self Help Africa-SHA noted continued Plant Clinic operations, strengthening of Plant Clinic operation and collaboration with other stakeholders, training plant doctors, and creating links with agro-input dealers, as some of those activities that they intend to conduct during the year 2012. On the other hand, speaking for CABI PlantWise Uganda, Jane Francis shared that they plan to hold a national stakeholders workshop, identify key partners, train plant doctors, establish at least 10 Plant Clinics, backstop 23 existing Plant Clinics, establish links with agro-dealers, publicize Plant Clinics through agricultural shows and use media advocacy materials, and also facilitate discussions and implementation of integration of Plant Clinic courses into the University’s curricula, whereas, Dr. Kalyegera for MAAIF revealed that the Ministry plans to integrate Plant Clinics in the Ministry’s institutions like NAADs, boost and effect the referral system of plant samples from the farmers to the laboratories and back, set up atleast one Plant Clinic at some District headquarters and equip them with full Plant Clinic kits. (Bundibudgyo, Kayunga, Buko, Buyikwe, and Kumi Districts are some of those Districts that will have these clinics by end of June 2012) respectively. In addition to this, Phil Taylor of PlantWise also informed the meeting that PlantWise was working on a knowledge bank that would be used by the different stakeholders to access information on the different crop pests and diseases or agricultural related information from and within Uganda and beyond. Phil explained that once the knowledge bank is ready it will be launched and made available to partners who will however only be able to access information with permission from the Ministry through signed information sharing agreements. Commenting on broadening the coverage of Plant Clinics, Phil revealed that PlantWise is being decentralized; PlantWise-UK is going to train trainers of trainers (TOT) who will be charged with training other Plant Doctors at national, regional and local levels. Wrapping up the meeting, Jane Frances-CABI thanked the members for their turn-up and active participation which she said had helped in informing CABI on the different activities that organizations were doing under Plant Clinics asserting that it was going to help harmonize operations and avoid overlaps. Closing the meeting, Dr. Kalyegera expressed gratitude over the rich deliberations that members had held. He also noted that knowledge on Plant Clinics still needs to be widely shared with the community; to which he challenged everyone to be ambassadors of the same. Dr. Kalyegera however expressed fear over misinterpretation of facts/information on crop pests and diseases by plant doctors to which he appealed that a handbook for Plant Doctors to guide their operations be developed- A Plant Clinic User Handbook.