The smallholder farmers in Ethiopia face many
different challenges on a regular basis. During the training session, particularly
with smallholder farmers, the first challenge is the farmers are expected
to travel a very long distance. The other thing is we don’t have any alternative
or modern training materials. And the third one is the participation of
women in this training process is very minimal. It is important to ensure that the smallholder
farmers receive a consistent message across various different platforms that are
engaging with the extension structure. When farmers receive information across one
platform they will receive reinforcement of messages
across another platform. The digital integration for amplifying agricultural
extension project largely had three objectives. The first one to ensure that at least one
million smallholder farmers were reached. The second was to ensure that at least 250,000
of those smallholder farmers adopted one practice. And the third is to ensure that there would
be a 50 percent sustainability of these platforms at large
with the agricultural extension structure here in Ethiopia. The project works in partnership with the
Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the federal level. And the Bureau of Agriculture at the regional,
zonal, district, and village level by leveraging the robust agriculture extension
system and structure within the country. The project brings together three different
technology platforms for smallholder farmers to be able to access
information on a regular basis. We have video-enabled extension approach,
a participatory radio campaign, and a set of interactive voice response audio
segments. I’ve received new knowledge in a simple
way. Most importantly,
I learn new ways of doing things, which I didn’t know before. The farmers’ participation during video
production and dissemination is that they are the major actors while producing
the video. Also, as the main participants during the
dissemination session, they raise issues in the video production
process. During dissemination sessions farmers will
be watching the videos and have a discussion on points of their challenges
or points where they want clarification. And if they are willing to adopt the technology
or the management practice promoted they will be registering themselves to the
development agents who are facilitating the sessions. The information we receive through the development
agent and the video is very important to us and
makes our work very easy. Now I see the practice with my own eyes. I don’t ask anyone to help me because I
understand what I see. Digital Green has supported and strengthened
the ATA’s existing Interactive Voice Response Short Message Service. A smallholder farmer calls into the system
and they can leave a voice recording, which is then forwarded to a district expert
who reviews the question, and then forwards a response back to the smallholder
farmer. Women farmers lack access to ICT. The challenges are their poor ownership and
access to technology. Their knowledge on how to use this equipment
is very limited. To increase women’s participation on the
radio programs we had this initiative called Her Farm Radio
where we provided female listener groups with radios and mobile phones
so that they can listen and participate on the radio programs we have provided. We design the radio programs in a way that
could interest female listeners. And we broadcast the radio programs on a day
and time that are most favorable for women listeners
to attend the program. When female farmers listen to the voices of
other female farmers who have been successful in doing that specific
practice, it motivates and inspires them to go ahead
and try and adopt that specific practice. In the last three years the project was able
to reach a large number of farmers and has induces a better adoption and uptake
of those technologies. The video helps ingrain the practices in my
mind. It helps me to do it practically alone in
a minute. It helps me not to depend on others until
they show me. Today, I will do it and I don’t wait for
anyone to show me.