Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development director of agricultural extension services Jerome Nkhoma says information and communications technology (ICT) can help farmers to easily access extension services and markets.
The official said this in Lilongwe last week when he officially opened the Digital Agricultural Extension Stakeholders Meeting held under the theme Towards Scaling up of Market-Oriented Extension Systems.
Nkhoma said the pressure mounted on extension workers sees going digital a reliable solution for farmers needing help.
“Currently, we have 1 700 extension workers in the country who are serving close to four million farmers and the ratio is just not considerate as every extension worker is providing guidance to at least 2 500 farmers which is more than the expected 750 farmers per extension worker,” he said.
Nkhoma said to combat the challenges, farmers need to adopt technology so that in absence of extension workers, they should still be getting the knowledge they need.
The Flanders deputy general representative for the government Nikolas Bosscher said technology adoption rate is still low for many farmers in the country despite being aware of the technological methods they can use in their farming activities.
He said: “A complementary approach is needed to reach the majority, especially young men and women who are more conversant with technology.
“Empowering communities will go a long way to improving demand-driven extension services and the respective qualitative participation of district agricultural extension services system and other outreach strategies.”
Farm Radio Trust chief executive officer George Vilili said the use of technology will enhance provision of necessary knowledge and skills at a lower cost.