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African farmers are using mobile phones to diagnose and treat crop diseases that cause massive losses to farmers, presenting an opportunity to increase yields as location-specific information about disease threats is made available.
An initiative in two districts of Uganda, has community knowledge workers (CKWs) sending text messages to farmers in a given locality. The information may include how to arrest the diseases, and where to buy uncontaminated seeds, as well tips on how to improve soil quality to increase yields. The project is initially launched in the districts of Mbale and Mbusheni, in the east and west of the country respectively. CKWs have been trained to how to use mobile phones to get information to the farmers. They provide agricultural tips and advise through the phones to control the diseases. Farmers even ask questions on wilt and BBTV and they receive automated answers on their phones. The mobile project is expected to be replicated to other areas across the country. Apart from mobile phones, Google maps technology can provide tonnes of farm-specific information to farmers. Using this technology, farmers can go online to see climate, soil, and fertiliser recommendations for their farms, as well as market locations and road linkages, which are crucial for transportation of their produce.
A project underway in Ethiopia is expected to capture data on road access, water points for irrigation, location of silos and market areas for use by farmers. According to Tesfaye Korme of the Regional Center for Mapping of Resources for Development, this information will definitely improve agriculture productivity and food security.