2 days ago in Uganda, newspapers announced that the current president, Museveni (abbreviated in the press as “M7”), aims to stay in power until 2021. It’s an interesting move: a political leader that declares his presidential intentions an entire decade ahead of schedule… it seems to indicate that the leader has lost the confidence to carry the electorate over the next few elections. Our host in Kampala claims that M7’s growing unpopularity in Kampala is tempered by popular support in rural areas. It seems that Museveni’s political strategy is to woo the rural vote by providing farmers with, among other things,  agricultural inputs. A recently launched agricultural program (whose name elicited eye rolls from one of our recent interviewees) is the poorly named “Prosperity for All,” which attempts to provide a select group of agricultural industries with agriculture extension aid. I didn’t find it easy to find good media coverage – here is a brief Guardian UK post mentioning it, and here is a Ugandan editorial about the program.

It is clear that one challenge Becky, Charlene and I will have to undertake is the unpacking of the roles of each ingredient in the Ugandan agriculture extension alphabet soup. Some groups, like NAADS and NARO, are government run, but appear to be funded in part by international aid. Thus, when outside funding dries up due to recession, these agencies face the possibility of losing influence and momentum. Other players, like USAID, may possibly provide stable program funding, but may also prioritize American economic interests above the interests of small scale farmers. We have many questions to explore, as we begin to dig through the role of various nodes in the Ugandan agricultural network.

So what does this mean for our project? Primarily, it informs our group about the need to take into account unpredictable political forces that assert pressure outside the market. For example, if external inputs are being provided to a selection of farmers simply for political reasons, the scalability of an ICT innovation might be affected.