Local farmers have been advised to use mobile platforms to access to relevant and timely information on planting techniques, crop management, pesticide use and weather forecasts, among others.
The call was made by Niall Magennis, the Content Manager at GSM Association, during a workshop in Kigali on Wednesday.
“Smallholder farmers worldwide lack access to agricultural information and other techniques, which leaves them vulnerable to harsh weather conditions as well as pests and diseases that can destroy crops and harm livestock.
Now, with mobile penetration in the developing world continuing to grow rapidly, mobile solutions can reach remote farmers in a way that no other form of communication can, helping them to improve productivity and increase efficiency throughout the agricultural chain,” he noted.
In an interview with The New Times, on Wednesday, Tony Nsanganira, the State Minister for Agriculture, said the government was committed to mobile technology as a key to sustainable agricultural development.
“Mobile phone solutions are quite essential to the agriculture sector; we are, therefore, working closely with the Ministry of Youth and ICT to come up with comprehensive agricultural strategies of reaching out to all the farmers, which is of course the challenge that we currently face. We are also ready to support anyone who can come up with mobile technologies aimed at providing solutions to farmers,” he noted.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources launched e-Soko, a project that seeks to empower farmers to enable them make more informed market pricing decisions with the aid of their mobile phones.
More than 75 per cent of Rwanda’s economically active population who earn their living directly or indirectly from agriculture and mostly through subsistence farming have been greatly affected by a lack of access to pricing information.
Claude Rutaremara, the Account Associate at Acre Africa, says that agricultural productivity can only be ensured when mobile technologies are emphasised on.
Presenting an innovative weather index-based insurance cover, ‘Replanting Guarantee Product’, Rutaremara underlined the importance of adopting mobile phones to improve agriculture.
The product was developed by Acre Africa in Kenya and is used by over 100 farmers in Rwanda.
Tigo Kilimo, Airtel Green Sim and Farmforce are some of the agriculture-based platforms that are currently used by farmers in Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, India, Philippine, Haiti, Malawi, Burkina Faso and Tanzania, to name but a few.
According to the World Bank, 75 per cent of the world’s poor live in rural areas and the majority are involved in agriculture. As a result, agriculture remains fundamental in the 21st century in eliminating poverty.