The Agricultural sector is one of the most important sectors globally. In Nigeria, it employs over 30% of the population, with the larger percentage found in the North, particularly the North-East. While there is some form of modernization in the agriculture sector, a majority of people engaged in production in North-East Nigeria, still practice at a subsistence level.
The Federal Government, International Development Organizations, and Private Sector Agribusinesses continue working towards ensuring food security and protecting the livelihoods of farmers amidst this pandemic using various approaches. However, an approach that we recommend that has not been utilized to full capacity is using digital agricultural extension services to educate and inform farmers, especially those in the most remote areas, on how they can improve their agricultural practices, access inputs, connect with relevant market actors to increase their productivity and income.
Farm Innovation Nigeria has currently deployed an innovative solution “FarmAid”, a digitized agricultural extension and Advisory Service [DAEAS], that provides farmers with information on good agricultural practices, weather information, access to inputs, market linkages and other value-added services. Highlighted below are some benefits of digitized agricultural extension services like FarmAid and the applicability especially during and post the pandemic period in North-East Nigeria.
- Real-Time Services Provision – Our E-extension services are delivered timely and accurately. Agricultural operations are time-bound and associated with uncertainty, e-extension is the fastest and reliable means of delivering extension services to farmers.
- Easy Accessibility – with the understanding that the adoption of agricultural technology is low in the North Eastern region of the country, we found a way to ensure that our e-extension services can be accessed via a basic feature mobile phone with all networks. This way, the majority of the farmers can access Good Agronomy Practices (GAP) without having to physically meet or interact with an Extension worker.
- Zero physical contact needed – Digitized extension services can reach farmers in areas that are not easily accessible to extension workers and farmers who are living with disabilities who cannot travel far to get information. At a time like this when physical contact is to be reduced at its barest minimum, FIN is ensuring that farmers still have access to critical information.
- Sustainability – Sustainability is a key factor in any innovative solution. Our e-extension service is not a one-time, limited-time solution. As long as farmers are subscribed to our platform, they will continue receiving information based on their location and value chain of engagement.
In a nutshell, digitized extension service is guaranteed to help mitigate the many threats to food security if implemented efficiently by increasing the productivity of the farmers thereby also increasing their income.