By Priscilla Basemera
At 10 am, on the bright Wednesday morning of 29th July, Agribusiness Development Centre (ADC) at their offices on Plot 1 Mackinnon Road, launched SOMA, the first e-learning platform of its kind in Uganda with a press conference.
There are a few e-learning options available for agriculture professionals predominantly in the United States and in some parts of Asia but not in Uganda. Internet searches for e-learning platforms provide search results to student learning portals but not farmer knowledge.
SOMA, a self-paced online portal has been developed and tailored to the needs of individual farmers and farmer-based organizations. The General Manager of ADC, Emmanuel Obuko, during the launch remarked that with the low literacy levels in Uganda, adapting technology in agriculture has been difficult.
DRIVING FARMER LITERACY
Agricultural development in a changing world is not only dependent on constantly improving existing practices but also on the adoption of innovations like SOMA.
SOMA takes into consideration the different possibilities e-learning has to offer. It incorporates allowing learners an opportunity to access the available courses within their respective geographical locations at a time convenient for them at no cost. With agriculture being Uganda’s most important export sector, several factors including limited availability of finance, lack of access to timely and quality market information as well as poor agricultural practices to mention but a few are an obstacle. ADC, with a desire of training farmers in becoming self-sufficient developed SOMA to provide knowledge in areas such as Good Governance, Financial Literacy and Marketing.
ADC was established in 2017 by Rabo Foundation, a Netherlands based organization and Dfcu Bank in Uganda. With agriculture being the backbone of Uganda and employing 70% of Ugandans, the ADC through training aims to support farmer-based organizations in becoming self-sufficient and bankable. In a means to create professional development opportunities for agriculture practitioners, ADC creates innovative ideas that are effective and efficient for farmers in Uganda to earn a living enough to sustain their families as well.
The first steps of e-learning in agriculture have been taken in countries like Asia by the Asia – Pacific Regional Technology Centre (APRTC) in Thailand. Fully exploiting electronic media and maximizing its usefulness while creating a well-designed electronic training system for learners.
The online programs available on SOMA are designed to engage the learners and avail learning resources in the form of case studies for their benefit. Lessons are available in English, Luganda, Luo, and Runyakitara. The choice is simply yours.