Abuja, April 26, 2019 African Cassava Agronomy Initiative (ACAI) says Nigerian farmers can now access extension and advisory services related to weed control, best planting practices and other aspects of cassava production on their cell phone.
Dr Alfred Dixon, the Director for Development and Delivery, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) said this in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria on Friday in Abuja.
Dixon said that the service was without any cost to the farmers, adding that the mobile telephony service was powered by Airtel using the 3-2-1 service of Viamo.
He said that farmers with Airtel sim cards who wanted to access the service and get good advice on cassava production could simply dial 3-2-1.
He said that they could listen to all the information they needed to make the most out of cassava production.
Dixon said that the use of mobile phones would give farmers, especially women access to the knowledge they needed to improve their livelihoods.
According to him, the mobile approach will also enable the recommendations contained on the “Six Steps to Cassava Weed Management and Best Planting Practices to reach the hard-to-reach terrains in Nigeria’’.
He said that the cassava information on weed control and best planting practices on the 3-2-1 service were the combined recommendations from the now merged IITA Cassava Weed Management Project (CWMP), and the IITA African Cassava Agronomy Initiative (ACAI).
Dixon said that the recommendations from these projects were validated during a stakeholders meeting involving the National Root Crops Research Institute, Umudike, and the two premier universities of agriculture in Abeokuta.
Others include extension agencies from Abia, Benue, Makurdi, Ogun and Oyo who were also part of the initial message development.
He said that there were also development partners such as GIZ, Catholic Relief Services, and the Market Development in the Niger Delta project (MADE) who gave useful insights into the message development process.
He said that the release of evidence-based messages on the 3-2-1 service provides farmers the tools they needed to improve cassava yield and make more profits.
The statement also quoted Harriet Blest, the Country Manager of Viamo to have said that they were excited to work with IITA in the framework of ACAI to transform cassava in Nigeria using the 3-2-1 service of Airtel.
“With a subscriber base of 43.1 million, Airtel is one of the top three telecommunication companies in Nigeria.
The statement also quoted Godwin Atser, the Digital Extension and Advisory Services Specialist with IITA, who coordinated the messages with Viamo, to have said that the development was a new dawn for cassava farmers.
“This move will complement the extension work we are doing in Nigeria by offering farmers the information they need in real time. All that farmers need to do is to dial 3-2-1 and listen to how to grow cassava.”
Dixon however said that in the days ahead, IITA-ACAI and Viamo were planning massive awareness so that farmers could take advantage of the information on the 3-2-1 space to improve their livelihoods.