Mobiles and Agricultural Extension

Originally posted on Blackboard by Jesse Seng.

Agriculture can serve as an important engine for economic growth in developing countries, yet yields in low-income countries have lagged far behind those in developed countries for decades. Jenny C. Aker argues that mobile phones may be one mechanism to increase effectiveness and efficiency for agricultural extension (delivery of information to small-scale farmers) in low-income countries. Farmers, with limited access to information sources, have not been able to take advantage of innovations in agricultural production (from seed types to information about pest control or crop rotations) and have been largely unable to increase their yields and hence incomes. An example of this approach to ICT4D in action is the Kenyan government’s National Farmers Information Service. In analyzing this approach some questions arise. Are the farmers able to call a hotline or are they only able to text? What is the cost to the farmer? Are farmers taught how to use the mobile phones and how to access the agricultural extension service? How will you measure the effectiveness of the agricultural extension program?


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