A 10 year digitization roadmap to provide agricultural information for farmers, replacing Development Agents (Das) is rolled out.
The Ministry of Agriculture, the Agricultural Transformation Institute (ATI) along with international development organizations developed a roadmap to Digitize Agricultural Extension and Advisory Services (DAEAS).
All agricultural information will be digitized and kept in a data center to be built at the ATI. Farmers will access the digitized agricultural information through different platforms including mobile phone based applications.
Development partners and donors will also access the information digitally, to use it for their decision making process in order to intervene, and avoid duplication of efforts in the same agricultural areas.
“DAEAS would add significant value for farmers through a digital transformation. It would also address the capacity limitations of DAs and set clear pathways to enhance their efficiency and effectiveness. It would also empower and enable farmers by providing access to information and letting them chart their path,” said Oumer Hussie, Minister for Agriculture.
Oumer says the digitization blueprint will lead to enhanced productivity, income and building resilience capacity to shocks, transforming the Ethiopian Food system.
In an event held in Addis Ababa over the week, panelists from local and international development organizations reviewed the key elements based on international experiences.
In the roadmap, 30 actions have been identified across six pillars. These pillars are digital innovations, hardware and connectivity, data and analytics, governance and policy, human capital, and business environment.
The data and analytics pillar will address key data assets accessible, interoperable, and available in real-time.
Ethiopia’s agricultural extension program is a robust scheme in Africa, with over 65,000 Das currently providing a person to person service. It also devises participatory extension system that is characterized by the formation of farmers’ groups, community mobilization, and voluntary model farmers’ support.
However, this robust scheme is criticized for two loopholes.
The first is the government usually uses the scheme as a political platform to control farmers. And the second is that the scheme only focuses on crop cultivation areas, avoiding the vast pastoralist population in Ethiopia.
The digitized agricultural extension program will cutout these major bottlenecks and transform Ethiopia’s extremely backward agricultural system into a modern one, according to officials.