Thursday, December 29, 2011

The use of mobile to access solutions to agricultural problems

A farmers' info hub
Just like there are many formulas of making a rat past tense, there are many ways mobile phones can be used for the benefit of farmers. One of such ways and which am going to focus on is provision of Farmer helpline services. This provides an opportunity for farmers to get quick and accurate answers to agricultural queries much faster and economically than information centers.

Using their mobile phone, farmers can call a helpline staffed by agricultural experts to ask about problems they are facing, such as the appearance of new pests, emergence of new diseases or the use of chemicals. They could also send photos via their mobile to get more specific advice, particularly on identification and treatment of pests and disease. Experts answer their queries immediately if possible, or call back when they have found an answer.

Potential barriers and recommendations:
Obtaining locally relevant agricultural information as per the demand: To address this, partnerships are needed between helplines and agents including agricultural extension workers with local knowledge to facilitate expeditious provision of solutions.
Managing operating costs of staffing helplines with agricultural experts: There is need for governments, NGOs and private enterprises such as agricultural input distributors and call centres need to work together to find the most cost-effective solutions.
Providing required communications infrastructure: Partnerships between mobile service providers and call centres are needed to provide the infrastructure.

This kind of service can also help experts and researchers by using information on the issues raised to improve their understanding of agricultural trends and the challenges facing farmers.

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