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THE ROLE OF MOBILE PHONES IN FACILITATIING AQUACULTURE DEVELOPMENT IN UGANDA  

Moureen Matuha*, J. J. Molnar, G. Atukunda, S. Namatovu, T. Hyuha
 
National Fisheries Resources Research Institute
P.O.Box 343
Plot 39/45, Nile Crescent
Jinja-Ugnada
mmolex22@gmail.com

Aquaculture being largely non-traditional in Uganda, is challenged by inadequate information and technical assistance to guide farmers. Farmers in Uganda have accumulated enough experience in growing crops and livestock farming, but they have little information on raising fish. Mobile phones could improve aquaculture productivity by increasing access to technical guidance, extension services, product assembly, input coordination, and price discovery for small-scale fish farmers. However, little is known about the potential impact of mobile phone use on aquaculture learning and conveying needs and interests of fish farmers in Uganda.

The study was carried out to develop baseline information about the needs and interests of fish farmers in order to induce public agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and cellular service provides to facilitate the use of cell phone as a means to guide, coordinate, and instruct fish farmers. The study had the following objectives (1) to review the literature on the use of mobile phones in agricultural development, (2) to assess mobile phones as a source of information for fish farmers in Uganda and (3) to examine the reported experiences and perception of mobile phone use among fish farmers in Uganda.

Five focused group discussions with fish farmers were conducted in five districts of Uganda in the months of May, June, and July 2014. The main findings reveal that fish farmers mainly use their mobile phones to access technical guidance from intermediary farmers, obtain market information, accomplish mobile banking and receiving, contact family members and make plans for procurement of fish farming inputs. Factors influencing mobile phone use included lack of electricity, poor network coverage, high calling credit and maintenance costs, lack of awareness and promotion. On the other hand, information regarding stocking and harvesting, feeding management, pond construction and management, disease management, water quality management, brood stock management and  market prices were most needed by fish farmers.  




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