This study aimed at assessing the level of mobile phone use in Ugandan agricultural extension, and to establish the extent to which mobile phone Viamo’s 3-2-1 service, hosted by Airtel Uganda, was being accessed and how the facility can be improved to boost banana productivity. The results of the study indicate that use of mobile phones for increased banana productivity were dependent on age, gender, household size, income and farming experience. Data collected show that the major information source by farmers was extension agents followed by phones and televisions. Focus group discussions revealed that most farmer participants owned phones (94.3%), had Airtel SIM cards and accessed Viamo service (65%). All respondents were aware of the Viamo service and majority got to know about the service through Airtel SMS notifications (83.3%). Farmers indicated that the four most sought after information elements for increasing banana productivity included material on weather forecasts, pest and disease control, fertilizers and their usage, and markets and their location. The study reveals information gaps with respect to pests and disease diagnosis and management, market prices, weather information, mulching and weeding in different terrains, and sources of clean banana planting material. It was concluded that the service is relevant and contributes to improving farmer knowledge on good banana farming practices. A further step will be to scale up use of the 3-2-1 service for agricultural purposes at country and regional levels.
Key words: Agricultural information, banana, information technology, innovations, IVR system, smartphones.
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