Improving ICT advisory services in Cameroon
This blog is a submission to the Community of Practice on Data-Driven Agronomy’s blog competition on digital extension—an opportunity for those working in the digital extension in agriculture field to share their experiences with their technologies, business models, key challenges, and major bottlenecks, as well as how they solved such challenges, when creating and implementing innovative solutions.
Enjeal Nys Agro is working to ameliorate agriculture extension and advisory service through information, communication, and technology.
We provide good agriculture practices on crops, market prices, and weather conditions information to rural farmers and develop youth capacity on agribusiness. Good agriculture practices on crops like maize, cocoa, and cassava for the Centre region of Cameroon have been developed.
The target here are agriculture extension and advisory service (AEAS) workers, youths interested in agribusiness, and smallholder farmers.
To reach AEAS workers and youths, a blog is being used. For youths capacity building we use platform like Zoom for webinars, google classroom, doc sheet, etc. for exercises and document editing and sharing. Short messages have been developed and posted in the blog for them to use in their activities. To reach smallholder farmers, mobile phones are used, farmers receive regular messages through Short Message System (SMS).
AEAS workers can contribute by leaving comments on the blog. Farmers can interact with us through either SMS or call.
We write articles to share with others on our experiences and learnings. We elaborate good agriculture practices in short messages and post on our blog and share through mail to AEAS workers of our data base. We send regular SMSes to smallholder farmers through various mobile networks during specific crop seasons. We also carry out capacity building sessions such as online workshops on agribusiness.
Our key resources are computers, mobile phones, internet connection, and communication credit. Our source of revenue is our personal funds, and we work in partnership with other civil society organizations, especially when it comes to capacity building on Global Open Data.
What are the biggest challenges you have faced? How did you overcome them?
Our challenges are:
- Lack of financial resources to create a full web application, to use paid versions of webinar applications, and to develop an automatic SMS application through an unstructured supplementary service data (USSD) system
- Little or no internet connexion in many rural areas
- Illiteracy on the use of smart technology in rural communities
To overcome some of these challenges, we created a blog to better communicate with other AEAS workers, not only in our community, but across the country and continent.
About 98% of smallholder farmers in rural communities have a mobile phone and a good knowledge on the use of USSD to consult their credit and phone number to activate some services. They can read and send messages through mobile phones and call if they have any preoccupations. In Cameroon, there are services that give users free messages for a month. We use this information and advantage to be able to send messages on good agriculture practices to smallholder farmers.
We also collaborate with other AEAS workers to use their networks and reach more smallholder farmers. To scale up and sustain this project we need to put in place a real interactive web application and develop a USSD system. di
In your opinion, what is the main opportunity for digital extension services? What recommendations would you make in order to realize this opportunity?
The main opportunity for digital extension services is the accessibility and availability of information. Agriculture extension and advisory services organisations should make accessible, editable, reusable, and relevant information.
Photo: Ollivier Girard / CIFOR. Chala Severine harvesting the Gnetum (okok) in the village of Minwoho, Lekié, Center Region, Cameroon.
January 20, 2020
Ngaleu Yves Stephane
President and Founder
Enjeal Nys Agro