Market Linkages Initiative chief of party Rachel Sibande says the use of mobile technology to disseminate information in agriculture could help transform the system and help solve the problem of shortage of extension workers.
Speaking during a rural for development workshop in Lilongwe on Wednesday, Sibande says the use of phones in spreading agricultural-related messages is a cheaper and faster way of helping farmers maximise produce.
“The goal of the workshop is to share good policies, procedures and practices related to the dissemination of information using ICT [information and communications technology] as a tool for development. The issue is, Malawi does not have enough extension workers to reach out to every farmer and so this in a way has contributed to poor farming methods among the farmers.
“By using phone to send information, it means a lot of farmers are able to get the message and the messages go to a lot of farmers within a space of time as opposed to the work extension workers can do using this approach. Therefore, over 18 thousand lead farmers responsible for 25 smallholder farmers have been reached across the country,” she said.
According to Sibande, farmers, through their mobile phones, get messages on the best practices they can apply in their fields for maximum productivity.
“Most farmers lack knowledge on the best modalities of preparing their fields. For instance, some groundnut farmers do not properly dry their groundnuts; hence, the high levels of aflatoxin in most seeds, but by using this service, farmers from time to time are updated on some of these drying methods, that is why, there have been improvements,” she said.