Agric e-extension project begins in June

An electronic extension (e-extension) project by the government to boost production in the agricultural sector in the country will start in June this year.

The project is expected to facilitate timely access to information by farmers through the establishment of linkages with research institutions such as the  Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, as well as tertiary institutions in the country. 

It was developed by Prep-eez, a local company, with the World Bank sponsoring its implementation under the West Africa Production Program (WAAPP).

According to the CEO of Prep-eez, Mr Ekow Sam, who is also the co-founder of Forum Networks (MTN audio conferencing), the project was  in two phases; first, to create a knowledge management portal where scientific research and innovations can be published and shared.

 That  portal, he added, had been integrated with smartphone applications for field information delivery, farm/field monitoring farmer identification, farm location and disease/pest epidemic reporting, all with Geographical Position System (GPS) integration. 

“This guarantees accurate and real time information for effective field support with M&E for all extension and field support services. An e-lab has also been setup at the Directorate of Extension for extension officers training and content development,” he said.

 The second phase, he said, was to put the information onto the portal and make it available to the common farmers, via their mobile phones, anywhere in the country and without any limitation.

“This phase, which will commence shortly, will provide a linkage between the portal and the standard mobile phone where content for crop cultivation, best practices, pre/post-harvest practices, weather and market information are all translated into six local dialects, which are Ewe, Dagbani, Frafra, Twi, Ga and Nzema for farmer education,” he added. 

In partnership with some mobile networks, they have also promised an affordable communication service for farmers.

A call centre is also to be established at the Directorate of Agriculture Extension Services of the MOFA to enable farmers who have needs beyond that which have been stored on the system to get direct support or an assistant for their critical needs.

The project’s phase  one,  he said, had already been piloted and involved 200 extension officers who were drawn from the Greater Accra and the Eastern Regions.

Countries, including Cote d’Ivoire, Sierra Leone, Togo, Liberia, Tanzania and Burkina Faso, have expressed interest and the first three countries have already visited Ghana and tested the system and are already preparing for the deployment of a similar concept in their various countries, he added

Prep-eez is a fully Ghanaian-owned communications, content & integration entity specialising in the design and deployment of convergence of mobile, web and PC collaboration platforms.

Story:Timothy Gobah

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