One of the main thrusters for addressing rural poverty and food insecurity has been agricultural extension programmes. These programmes have the capabilities to transfer technology and promote rural learning among adult farmers. They also help farmers solve problems and get them active in agricultural information and innovation system.
However, the deteriorating state of the agricultural extension service delivery in Nigeria has resulted in persistent low productivity and setback for Nigerian smallholder farmers. The plan to revolutionize the agricultural sector by the Nigerian Government has also recorded a downside with the agricultural extension service remaining the weakest link in the value chain. The inadequate dissemination of information by extension agents to farmers (mostly to those in the rural areas) have reduced agricultural productivity in the country for decades; since farmers are unable to access vital information that is beneficial to them on time.
Having recognized these gaps, Farm Innovation Nigeria Limited’s total commitment is to provide farmers with innovative solutions that can help them make informed decisions, to increase their farm productivity, as well as household income and welfare. Farm Aid is a web-based e-extension solution that provides an efficient, cost-effective, and sustainable way of delivering extension services and products to Smallholder farmers. According to the CEO “Leveraging on digitally enabled tools/services, we have been able to provide agricultural extension and advisory services to over 30,000 farmers within the northern area of Nigeria on four crop value chains (Rice, Sorghum, Tomato, Groundnuts) and Livestock. This was made possible because of the delivery method of information to smallholder farmers.”
“I was having insect infestations on my farm and when I called FarmAid, the agronomist made a prescription for me which I followed, and it worked perfectly. My farm is free of insect infestation” said Maitura, a farmer in Balanga Local Government Area of Gombe State
The adoption of a new technology depends increasingly not only on the availability of information but also on the way that information is transmitted and the community or persons to whom the information is transferred. The outcome showed that farmers’ knowledge and adoption of improved agricultural technologies and practices were greatly increased within a period of 6months. Another method of delivery is mobile phone-mediated services. To connect and improve access to agricultural information, short messages are sent to smallholder farmers in rural areas. A significant improvement in the quantity, quality and speed of the service delivery due to the mobile telephony in the provision of agricultural extension services was recorded.
These delivery methods have helped Farm Innovation Nigeria Limited to continue to act as a bridge to smallholder farmers by deploying innovative technologies to help them modernize their agricultural activities; most especially, with the persisting role of agricultural extension services in the field of agriculture.