Using ICTs to Strengthen Farm Extension Services

In this time when a lot of emphasis is being laid upon addressing food security and agricultural related problems, there is need to take Farm Extension Services (FES) to the digital level in order to cope with the increasing pressure in technological advancement. FES is fundamental in that it helps farmers to know what and when to plant, how to care for their plants from seed to post-harvest, how to handle fertilizers, pests, and much more. As a result to extension service work, smallholder farmers’ productivity increases. However, there exists a 2-Pronged Problem whereby too few farmers have access to the extension services they need and on the other hand extension workers cannot easily tap all the information available to help farmers.

In view of using ICTs to tackle these problems, there exists opportunities worth taking advantage of. In the field of Agricultural development we have;

  • Most AG development projects (including FTF) include some farm extension services.
  • Donors are providing funds to improve FES.
  • Some governments are modernizing their FES.
  • Large buyers, processors know value of providing FES.

Opportunities related to ICT include the following;

  • Access to mobile networks especially is expanding dramatically in developing countries –and the poor use cell phones.
  • Mobile networks now handle voice and data applications.
  • Mobile network operators (MNOs) are competing hard for market share, to reduce churn.

Some of the ICT Options available for tapping include; mobile networks, radio, video (stand-alone), GIS, digital cameras and the internet all working in complementarity with more traditional ones such as; face to face training and demo plots, the possibilities are just inexhaustible.


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