About 250 agricultural extension agents formerly known as extension officers of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture from the Greater Accra, Volta and Eastern Regions, have undergone a two-day training in Accra on the use of smart phones in their operations.
This modern technology is aimed at facilitating their dealings with farmers with challenges, effectively, without necessarily engaging them physically on their farms in view of the transportation difficulties the officers face in the line of their duties.
Currently, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture has only 2,120 extension agents across the country making the extention officer-farmer ratio of 1:2,000 instead of the recommended ratio of 1:500.
The workshop was organised by the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Programme (WAAPP), an initiative of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) with financial support from the World Bank.
WAAPP is a two-phased, 10-year adaptable programme being piloted in Ghana, Mali and Senegal.
Addressing the participants, Mrs. Azara Ali-Manshie, National Project Co-ordinator of WAAPP, said the technology (e-Agriculture Platform), had been rolled out for effective and efficient dissemination of agricultural information along the value chain.
“The essence of your training is how to use the smart phones to enhance your extension service delivery. I would, however, caution you seriously that the smart phones are not your personal or private property, neither are they for sale. Therefore, legal action will be taken against any staff who sells off his or her phone,” she warned.
WAAPP had already organised similar training workshops for agricultural extension agents in the Upper West, Upper East, Northern, Brong-Ahafo, Ashanti, Western and Central Regions.
A total of 1,700 smart phones have been purchased for distribution to the extension officers who have fully participated in the e-extension mobile application training.
Three call centres have been established in Accra, Kumasi and Tamale with specialists available to offer immediate solutions to problems the farmers as well as the extension officers may face.
By Castro Zangina-Tong