By Bello Hamza, Abuja

Women and youth in Kaduna State receive ICT4ag training and smart phones from AGRA project”

The AGRA Kaduna Consortium project, has trained about 300 women and youth community-based advisers (CBAs) on the use of ICT4ag tools and distributed over 200 Samsung smart phones to them. The beneficiaries paid 50% of the cost of the phones as their counterpart contribution.

The aim of this initiative is to empower the CBAs and the farmers they serve, increase their resilience and efficiency, and provide them with opportunities for digital e-extension services, income generation, productivity improvement and entrepreneurship development.

The training was declared open by the Executive Director of NAERLS, who was represented by the Assistant Director, Prof M.M. Jaliya. He congratulated the CBAs and advised them on the proper use and importance of smart phones, which he said would have a positive impact on the livelihood and output of farmers in the state. He stressed the importance of disseminating improved agricultural technologies to the end users and urged the CBAs to pay attention to the exercise.

The AGRA Kaduna Programme Officer, Dr Esther Ibrahim, applauded the high turnout of women as a sign of their empowerment. She also emphasized the importance of the training as the CBAs are expected to share their knowledge with their farmers in their communities. She urged the other participants to pay their counterpart funds for more phones to be procured.

The principal investigator of the project, Professor C.K. Daudu, while presenting an overview of the project, noted that the distribution of the AGRA smart phones is a notable attempt to empower smallholder farmers to improve their productivity, reduce vulnerability and increase their e-extension and market resilience in the maize-based system in Kaduna State. He added that through this innovation, around 300,000 farmers are expected to be connected and linked to multimedia apps that will enable them to access business opportunities such as e-buying and selling of commodities to increase their income.

The training was conducted in three batches from Wednesday 10th to Friday 12th November. The co-grantees of the project; Premier Seeds, EXAF and Pearl Mutual, as well as other partners such as KADA, MLG and IAR representatives were also present at the event. The finance officer of NAERLS & gender strengthening enthusiast, Barrister Dr Hadiza Kabir, encouraged the youth to use the AGRA smart phones effectively to generate income as smart phones are important tools for entrepreneurship development.

The participants were also equipped with skills on how to use basic mobile applications for agriculture such as RiceAdvice Tools, ODK, UTM area measurements, Plantex applications and standard data collection procedures among others. The CBAs were drawn from 18 LGAs across the three zones of the state. They expressed their gratitude and thanked AGRA for this great opportunity. The highlight of the event was the symbolic presentation of the phones and certificates of attendance to the participants.

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