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Thursday, 22 February 2018 06:36

FRT to research on how ICT impacts on agricultural productivity

Written by  Trouble Ziba

Lilongwe, February 21, 2018: Farm Radio Trust will carry out a three-year research study starting this year (2018) to find out how Information and Communication Technology (ICT) impacts on agricultural productivity in Malawi.

The development came to light Wednesday in Lilongwe when the radio trust organised a consultative stakeholder session on the use of ICT to scale up agriculture solutions. The meeting was dubbed ‘Harnessing ICTs to scale up Agriculture Solutions’.

According to Farm Radio  Executive Director, Rex Chapota, the agriculture sector faces ever increasing challenges of climate change, pests, parasites and diseases just to mention a few, that continue to pull down the sector.

“Information dissemination on the agricultural solutions to these problems has remained a very big challenge owing to the fewer extension workers than the number of farm families they ought to serve,” Chapota told reporters in an interview.

Over the years, the traditional way of passing information to farmers on agricultural issues has been through agricultural extension workers, but Chapota said the process was slow due to fewer numbers of the extension workers.

He said this was why Farm Radio Trust was geared to boosting the traditional way of passing information to farmers with the use of ICT, hence the research study on the same.

According to Chapota, the study is expected to provide evidence on how ICT impacts on agricultural development in Malawi and also provide quicker ways of relaying messages to farmers such as through phones.

“We are looking forward to the findings of this study to feed into our ongoing work of developing a National Agriculture Extension Strategy,” he said.
Apart from Farm Radio officials, stakeholders in the ICT discussions included officials from Ministry of Agriculture’s Extension Services and others working in the agriculture sector.

In his opening address, Controller of Agriculture Extension Services in the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr Albert Changaya said with the fast changing technology, there was great need for farmers to embrace the use of ICT if food security was to improve in the country.

“As government, we should be seeking ways of enhancing information flow to farmers by embracing use of ICT which is quicker,” said Changaya, urging farmers in the country to use ICT devices such as phones for them to easily access information on agriculture.

He said with ever changing technology in communication, there was need to complement the traditional way of passing information to farmers with ICT, so that farmers are quickly updated on matters of agriculture.

Changaya, therefore, stressed the need for the country to scale up the use of ICT which would in turn, help in scaling up solutions to agricultural problems in the country.

The research study, which is funded by International Development Research Centre (IDRC) in Canada, will assist in understanding how ICT is used in Malawi, especially in providing agricultural solutions.

The study will also help in the development of a framework in ICT within which stakeholders in agriculture will need to work, according to Farm Radio Trust officials.


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