Mobile phone penetration in Nigeria hit 84% according to the Guardian Newspaper, 2018. This is an improvement from 53% in 2016 and this figure is constantly rising. This rapid growth has given rise to numerous mobile phone-enabled services (m-services) in the areas of health, education, agriculture, and entertainment, especially since 2009. M-services present particular opportunities for farmers who in the absence of access to advanced technologies often lack alternative means of getting timely information. Poor and marginalized farmers, in particular, may be able to use their mobile phones to access services that are otherwise inaccessible due to barriers of their financial status. While agriculture-related m- services still account for only a small share of m-services, the largely untapped rural populace offers potentially significant business opportunities for service providers. To date, many of the agriculture-related m-services are barely scratching the surface of what is technologically possible even with just a basic feature phone.
Farm Innovation Nigeria understands the critical role smallholder farmers play in contributing to food security and the need to improve their productivity and livelihoods, particularly those living below 2 dollars per day. To achieve this, we are making agricultural extension services and opportunities accessible to farmers especially women and people living with disabilities, in remote areas using mobile technology. This benefits not just farmers but even market actors unable to reach these farmers. We utilize a range of mobile phone-enabled services such as Short Messaging Services (SMS), Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD), and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) which cater to every farmer with a basic feature phone taking into perspective local languages and level of literacy. Farmers get up-to-date, real-time actionable information on crop production, will be more climate-smart in their production through access to real-time weather information that lets them decide on when to plant and what to plant. They also gain access to market actors along different crop value chains such as produce aggregators, off-takers, input manufacturers, agricultural-research institutes to demand/provide each other with vital information in relation to crop sales, commodity pricing, crop-production, and modern post-harvest storage techniques
Information Communication Technologies (ICT) are becoming more universal and interconnected through expanding mobile networks, allowing for the collection and processing of large amounts of data to assist in all stages of farming as well as the creation of social networks for information exchange and learning. It is important to understand which of these technologies can realistically be leveraged to promote agricultural development. There is a need to ensure that mobile services continue to cater to a broad range of users and providing solutions to everyday challenges faced by people and businesses in the agricultural sector.