Extension activities can expose rural farmers to new technologies

19Jun 2020
Polycarp Machira
The Guardian
Extension activities can expose rural farmers to new technologies

FACED with acute shortage of extension officers in the country, the government has adopted use of technology to reach many farmers, minister for Agriculture, Japheth Hasunga has said

The system, dubbed ‘M-Kilimo’ platform is an innovative service that gives farmers access to agricultural information such as farm inputs, markets, among others.

The minister said there are only 7000 extension officers in the country while the demand is 12,000 extension officers, adding that the government is working hard to fill the gap.

Once registered on the M-Kilimo platform, farmers and buyers can meet online and do business as well as share information. “ The government acknowledges that there are few extension officers in the country and is doing everything possible to help farmers get extension services” he said.

M-Kilimo also enables access to agricultural extension officers. Through the service, farmers can share information with extension officers on various issues affecting their farming. Farmers can receive alert and information on disease outbreaks, new seeds and weather reports through their phones.

He said more than 90,000 livestock keepers, crop farmers and fishermen are expected to benefit from this service. M-Kilimo was developed after studies conducted in rural Tanzania indicated the value of mobile devices in passing agricultural information.

According to the minister some crops like cotton have been seriously affected as the expectation was to produce a total of 600,000 tonnes in the country but target has not been met.

He appealed to cotton farmers to use quality seeds that can increase production and they should also adopt modern technology too. He noted that Tanzanians should aim to increase production from the current 200 kilogram per hectare to 2000 kilogram per hectare.

Minister Hasunga observed that lack right farm inputs is another challenge facing farmers but explained that the problem is likely to end soon, He said the government has set up organization that deals with welfare of crops.

Working in collaboration with Tropical Pesticide Research Institute (TPRI) will put in place measure to ensure control of fake inputs in the market.

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