The 2017 Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources (MoANR) Extension Strategy recommends enhancing agricultural knowledge through information communication technology (ICT) led extension service delivery. In line with the recommendation, CDSF facilitated four rounds of trainings on the use of computer tablets for agricultural extension and advisory services. One-hundred-twenty-eight (105 men and 23 women) participants drawn from twenty-three woredas in four regions, namely Tigray, Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Region (SNNPR), Amhara and Oromia participated in the trainings. Participants included Kebele Development Agents (DAs)and representatives of regional and woreda AGP offices.
During EFY2010, CDSF purchased 100 computer tablets and distributed them to DAs in the pilot areas. The CDSF facilitated training was meant to provide support for best fit agricultural technologies which had been converted into extension training materials (ETMs) to advise farmers on best practices. The purpose of the training was to enable DAs to effectively use computer tablets as part and parcel of the agricultural Extension and Advisory Services (EAS) for the ETMs.
Several months after the trainings were conducted, DAs continue to use the computer tablets for putting into practice what they have learned during the training sessions.
Hayeleyesus Seyfu is a plant science DA in Belalo Kebele, Mirab Azernet Brebere Woreda, Silte Zone in SNNPR. Haileyesus had the following comment about how the computer tablets are being used in his kebele.
“Our kebele is one location where 25 computer tablets were piloted in the region. In October 2018, CDSF gave us a computer tablet as well as provided a two-day training on how to use it most effectively. Since then, we have been using the tablet to identify and document exemplary agricultural activities of farmers. We go from house-to-house showing pictures or videos of the good practices to less knowledgeable or less skilled farmers in the community. We sometimes organize meetings or workshops at Farmers’ Training Centers (FTCs) for experience sharing. We have observed that farmers are motivated when they see pictures or videos of farm plots or crops of their fellow farmers. Many farmers have changed their practices after watching videos or seeing photos of successful farmers’ fields.
We use the Plantwise application software on the tablet as a reference material. The application has given us access to up-to-date information on identification and controlling mechanisms of pests, diseases and weeds. The computer tablets have proved to be a great time-saver as we do not take time to travel to the woreda town to get such useful technical information.
Having said all that, we have also faced some challenges. We have only one computer tablet for the kebele so we couldn’t share with other DAs who want to use the tablets as well. There is no mechanism in place to transfer responsibilities for the computer tablets from one DA to another. Moreover, DAs in remote kebeles must travel a long distance to get access to Internet in order to update or upgrade the application software. I believe more computer tablets should be made available for DAs, and the application should be used for other sectors such as crop, livestock, natural resource management, etc. A regular reporting system should also be put in place so that we communicate regularly with our woreda counterparts.”