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Tuesday, 2 July, 2002, 11:22 GMT 12:22 UK
Ugandan women farmers go hi-tech
Ugandan telecentre, Women of Uganda Network
The computer class is proving popular
Ugandan women are becoming better farmers thanks to an interactive CD-Rom.

The CD gives advice on ways to improve yields from crops and livestock, how to market what is produced and helps the women think about new products they can make and sell.

Since it was introduced, the CD has been a huge success and has helped to dramatically improve the living standards of those who have used it.

The first women that used the CD have become role models for many others in the region.

Mice and goats

The use of the CD-Rom has been pioneered at the Nakaseke Telecentre that lies in a region about 50 kilometres north of the Ugandan capital Kampala.

Click here to tell us if you know or are involved in a similar project

Telecentre co-ordinator Rita Mijumbi said originally the idea was to use the internet and e-mail to get information for the rural farmers.

Women of Uganda Network
Anastasia Namisango: Keen user of the CD-Rom
"But there wasn't much content relevant to the rural people on the internet," she told the BBC programme Go Digital.

"We had an information gap and this is how the CD-Rom project came into being."

The CD gives the women farmers practical advice on how to boost crop yields and manage livestock. It also gets them thinking about what else they can produce and how to collaborate with friends and neighbours to get more out of their small holdings.

The women navigate through the CD using a mouse and the advice is given in the women's native language.

"These women have very limited education so you actually find that many of them cannot even read in their own language," said Ms Mijumbi, "but the CD-Rom is linked to sound so they can listen if they cannot read and get the message."

When first introduced to the computer many of the women were scared of doing something wrong and took time to get over their fear.

Class act

But now many are regular visitors to the telecentre and are keen to learn more.


When the women go back home they talk about these ideas, they talk about the CD-Rom

Rita Mijumbi, telecentre co-ordinator
One of the stars of the Nakaseke centre is 70-year-old Anastasia Namisango who has enjoyed huge success thanks to the CD-Rom.

"All the ideas I have got from it I have been able to apply to my work, mainly my cultivation work and my keeping of animals," she said.

"I had one chicken and one pig," she said, "but when I read how to build on what you have, I decided to become patient and rear that one chicken that I had."

"Now I have 20 chickens and five pigs," she said.

"Many people admire me, not only my close family members but also the others that I work with," she said.

Money-making

Many of the children of the farmers are now keen to learn about or use the computer and are being encouraged to read so they can find out more.

Women at the telecentre
Women enthusiastic about the project
As well as acting as a teaching centre, the telecentre is also helping the farmers get better prices for their produce.

Before now the farmers had to rely on information from travelling traders about prices. But at the telecentre they can check with markets in Kampala to find the proper price for what they sell.

Rita Mijumbi said initially the husbands of many of the women farmers would not allow their wives to go to the telecentre fearing that it was a waste of time. But success had changed their attitudes.

"When the women go back home they talk about these ideas, they talk about the CD-Rom," she said.

"The men now realise that there is something good that can come out of this, the women are not just gossiping or going out to look for other men."

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See also:

22 Oct 01 | Science/Nature
10 Dec 01 | Science/Nature
24 Jun 02 | Science/Nature
15 Apr 02 | Africa
17 Jun 02 | South Asia
13 Aug 01 | South Asia
16 Oct 01 | Science/Nature
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