The purpose of this study was to explore the role that agricultural information and communication technologies (ICTs) might play in scaling up traditional knowledge (TK)-based agricultural production, and to investigate the ways in which local communities have used ICTs to scale up TK in agricultural production. The study also aimed to explore the degree to which agricultural ICTs can be used in Uganda in the deployment of a category of intellectual property rights (IPRs) known as geographical indications (GIs).
GIs are a form of IP that have a potentially unique relevance for agricultural production. African countries have only recently paid attention to GIs as potential tools to protect their agricultural production. Uganda has enacted a GI law that is expected to play a role in the country’s agricultural production.
In most developing countries, including Uganda, small-scale producers’ access to markets and to agricultural information is constrained by a number of limitations. Producers in developing countries often depend on traditional means of communication, and sell their products at the farm gate, while intermediaries and other stakeholders in the product chain take a large share of the value generated by the products. Improving producers’ access to markets and to agricultural information has long been identified as a key issue in improving small-scale agriculture in developing countries. The use of ICTs is one approach to linking small-scale producers to markets that can enable producers to make better-informed decisions during selling and when farming. Thus, ICTs and GIs can both potentially help link producers to markets in ways that that can affect their decisions, at both production and marketing levels. Considering the knowledge-based methods of production in tradition-based agriculture, GIs systems and ICTs foster collective action and collaboration among local stakeholders thereby, supporting innovation through collaboration. In this way, the simultaneous deployment of GIs and ICTs can be an effective strategy for indigenous entrepreneurs to pursue in order to scale up collaborative innovation in agricultural production.