Free e-Agriculture & Extension Platform For Farmers Unveiled

As part of the government effort in promoting productivity in the agricultural sector, the government in collaboration with the World Bank, and the West Africa Agricultural Production Program (WAAPP) has started piloting the e-agriculture and extension programme throughout the country. The e-agriculture and extension programme which is being spearheaded by an indigenous company, Prep-eez Limited, is working on expanding a free multi lingual interactive voice response (IVR) system and audio conferencing, free messaging services, farmer and expert meetings that has currently attracted over 40,000 active subscribers. It has an average daily usage of 2000 accessing each day on their standard mobile phone with languages, including, Twi, Ga, Ewe, Nzema, Dagbani and Frafra. According to the CEO of Prep-eez Tech Limited , Kow Sam, the company under the e-agricultural programme is upscaling the service to cover the entire country in the next couple of months covering over 11 languages and also executing similar projects in Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire and other West African countries. The company, he said, was also building a multi lingual call-centre (toll-free) at the Ministry of Food and Agricultural (MoFA) resource centre. This, he said, would allow direct access to information in real time from subject matter specialist as well as experts to farmers through standard phones at zero cost to the farmer. In addition to this, Mr. Sam said, three e-resource centres were being established in Accra, Kumasi and Tamale to help build ICT agricultural resource where MoFA staff, extension officers, women and youth in agricultural would learn to build business plans, research and experimentations, cash flow and productivity and performance analysis for effective output. He disclosed that a centralised web portal was being developed as a one stop shop platform for agric related business institutions and research. “Another component is the private platform of the portal which is linked to a smart phone to measure the productivity of agricultural field agents, disease reporting, feedback as well as seed stock dissemination and management in the country,” he said. He said with all these laudable initiatives, it would bring together all stakeholders in agriculture to utilise this platform in promotion of agriculture in the country. Currently, MTN is offering over 60 per cent discount of users of this platform to allow them interact effectively among themselves which is expected to boost agricultural productivities. For now countries including: Sierra Leone, Togo, Liberia, Tanzania and Burkina Faso have expressed immense interest and the first three countries have already visited Ghana and tested the system and are already preparing for the deployment of a similar concept in their various countries, he added Prep-eez is a fully Ghanaian-owned communications, content and integration entity specialising in the design and deployment of convergence of mobile, web and PC collaboration platforms. The company is developing content over mobile networks for effective communication and technology dissemination throughout Ghana. It uses this technology base to deliver relevant content to players in the educational, road safety, health and agricultural sectors.