Mobile phones help Tanzanian farmers boost yields

Farmer-phoneStatistics from Tanzania’s Communications Regulatory Authority show that the country has 21mn active mobile phone subscribers. (Image source: Marwa Morgan/Flicker)Sokoine University of Agriculture has started an agricultural project named 'The Role of Mobile Phones towards Improving Coverage of Agricultural Extension Services' to help farmers improve their harvests in Kilosa District, Tanzania

According to the project's founders, the project's aim is to bridge the information gap between farmers and agricultural experts with the help of mobile phones.

Sources said that under this programme, farmers in rural Tanzania can use mobile phones to access information, which will help them to fight pests, increase soil fertility and thereby boost crop yields.

Project coordinator Lusato Kurwijila said, "The use of mobile phones is the most efficient and cost-effective way to disseminate agricultural information, such as adapting to changing global weather patterns and dealing with new plant diseases. The university has developed content on farming, which extension officers can access with their laptops and can transfer them to farmers instantly."

The project is part of a four-year agricultural research programme, which is funded by a Norwegian grant and is worth US$11mn, revealed Sokoine University of Agriculture in a statement.

Siwel Nyamba, a researcher with Sokoine University of Agriculture, said, "The lack of timely agricultural information is a big problem faced by most farmers in this (Kilosa) district. We hope that this initiative offers new opportunities to address their problem."

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