One reason farmers in Africa mostly produce so much less than those in other parts of the world is that they have limited access tothe technical knowledge and practical tips that can significantly increase yields. But as the continent becomes increasingly wired, this information deficit is narrowing.
While there are other factors, such as poor infrastructure and low access to credit and markets, that have helped keep average yields in Africa largely unchanged since the 1960s, detailed and speedily-delivered information is now increasingly recognized as an essential part of bringing agricultural production levels closer to their full potential. Another aspect to pay attention to is the reliance on development agents, which means that sometimes agronomic information reaches farmers too late or is distorted.
The 8028 hotline was launched as a partnership between the Ethiopian government and Ethio Telecom to offer rural farmers real-time crop information in their native language. The service provides information by automated voice message or SMS, and is designed to increase agricultural productivity by improving the technical knowledge of farmers. In December 2014 – after five months in operation – three million people had called the 8028 service.
The agriculture hotline was proving popular due to its“pull” and “push” factors, according to ATA’s chief executive officer, Khalid Bomba.Farmers could pull out practical advice, while customized content could be pushed out, such as during pest and disease outbreaks, to different callers based on the crop, or geographic or demographic data captured when farmers first registered with the system.
The hotline currently focuses on cereal crops such as barley, maize, teff, sorghum and wheat, but plans are under way to provide agricultural advice on other crops,such as sesame, chickpea, haricot beans and cotton, while incorporating farmers’ feedback on needs.
Take this case of m-farming, how could we imagine technology being used to increase productivity and the quality of the service provided by low-income workers?
How could we use technology to improve the technical knowledge of low-income workers?
How could we help to improve productivity and technical knowledge throughout offline methods?