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May 15, 2013

MOFA to introduce mobile phones to improve agriculture productivity

The Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) would in June use smart mobile phones to disseminate information on agriculture among farmers to increase productivity.

The new technology being implemented by a consultant under the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Programme Two (WAAPP-2) would be piloted in some selected districts in the Northern Region.

Farmers would be introduced to an e-extension hub through a central portal to be located to serve the nation with data and information.

Mr Emmanuel Alorigiya, Communication Officer of WAAP who disclosed this in Tamale on Tuesday during a sensitisation workshop said the aim of the e-extension platform is to efficiently disseminate information to farmers using common languages that many farmers understand.

He said adequate agricultural ideas would be transmitted through the platform to capture, store and retrieve information by farmers using standard smart mobile phones.

“There are very few agriculture extension officers in the country and this is the best way to educate farmers.”

WAAPP is a World Bank funded project, which started in 2007 to 2012 as a first phase at the cost of 15 million dollars.

The second phase started in 2012 and ends in 2017 at the total cost of 60 million dollars as a loan to the country.

Mr Alorigiya said the project, which is being implemented in 13 West African countries is targeting tuber crops in its first phase but was up-scaled to general agricultural productivities which facilitate research and crop variety development and dissemination.

He said the project shares knowledge and technology aligned with regional priorities to address poverty and food insecurity through regional cooperation and integration.

This success story was shared among the participating countries.

Through the success of the phase one, he said a lot of crop varieties had been developed and mentioned cassava, cocoyam and yam as crops that had received enough attention.

He said small ruminant and guinea fowl rearing and vegetables cultivation have been introduced in the second phase, adding: “Climate change and gender inclusion are important component of the phase two.”

Mr William Boakye-Acheampong, Northern Regional Director of MOFA expressed worry about inadequate extension agricultural officers in the region, stressing that in the next five years, almost all the extension officers would have gone on retirement.

This situation he said would affect agricultural information dissemination.

He appealed to the Ministry to make a policy change and employ more staff to fill up vacancies to ensure the achievement of the agricultural goals of the country.

Source: GNA