As the struggle against plant Pests and Disease control in the Rwenzori region is continuing, RIC-NET has finally started the use of smart phones in gathering information on control of major Plant Pests and Diseases. The project is being piloted at Busongora Rural Information Center-Kasese Municipality. Busongora Rural information center mainly deal with farmers. Busongora County is mostly affected by Banana Bacteria wilt [BBX], cassava wilt, maize weevil. The farmers had been frustrated by low yields due to plant pests. With an increase in population in the areas and farmers shifting from subsistence to commercial farmers, pests and disease control had become an issue of concern.
About 20 IDEOS Smart phones have been procured and given to modal farmers and plant Doctors to help in information sourcing and sharing in the rural villages. Working with farmers, the plant doctors are using their smart phones to photograph diseased plants, they immediately send the photographs to the local research centers where experts will examine the photograph and identify the diseases. The findings are thus shared through the SMS text message on the phone back to the Plant Doctors.
According to Kagumire Gertrude and Bahunguli Astaluzi one of the plant Doctors attached to Busongoora Rural information center and operating in sub counties of Kilembe, Rukoki the said “Smart phones have reduced on the time spend to attend to the farmers”. This service has improved farmers access to agricultural information with the intention of reaching out to about 6000 farmers in the region [Busongora County]. Timely solutions to farmer’s problems have been handled, improved better practice of farm management and reduce on the cost of transporting samples to the research centers. The plant doctors express concern that farmers should constantly use the available information at the centers and if possible use the mobile phones to get the services.