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MOBILE PHONES SAVE THE BANANAS IN AFRICA -UGANDA

Original post made by JAMES on Oct 8, 2009

I found this article about a banana disease scientist and his cell phone. Uganda isn't as flooded with technology like the U.S. Because electricity is scarce, it is hard to move technology in. Mobile phones are rare because of the difficulty in finding a place to charge them.Though solar charged mobile phones are now introduced in Uganda.

This article talks about Laban Rutagumirwa, a banana disease tracker in rural Uganda. Because there is nowhere close to charge his mobile phone, he must do so with a car battery. He walks over four mile each time his phone's battery dies to ensure that he can stay in touch with scientists to help track and stop diseases in the banana plants, protecting the crop that covers about 40% of Uganda's farmable land and serves as a staple food for over 12 million people. "Losses from banana disease are estimated to be $70 million to $200 million each year."

"With his phone, Mr. Rutagumirwa collects digital photos, establishes global positioning system coordinates and stores completed 50-question surveys from nearby farmers with sick plants. He sends this data, wirelessly and instantly, to scientists in the Ugandan capital, Kampala."

The growth of mobile phones is the fasted in Africa, growing far faster than internet connections, which is opposite in the United States. Not only do mobile phones allow banana scientists to track diseases in the field, but it also allows for people to gain information, buy and sell product, transfer money, turn on water wells, etc. To a society that remains cut off to some extent, mobile phones are opening communication lines and helping society grow together.

"The use of the mobile phone," Mr. Bangirana said, "has empowered the community to know what they never knew and ask any question concerning their surroundings."

To read the full article: Web Link

I just thought this article was interesting. I get caught thinking like an American and taking things for granted, like the ability to easily get in touch with anyone, whether it be a neighbor or a friend that lives on the other side of the world. The ability to communicate is much taken for granted here, and it is interesting to think about how life would be without that communication, like it is in Uganda for so many!

The interesting thing about Uganda is, though, that even with the high growth of cell phones, people there continue to value face to face conversation! I hope that remains because that interaction is almost the definition of Ugandan culture.

james

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