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Why mobile phones are farmers favourite gadget

Mobile phones are still the preferred platform farmers are using to access market information and financial services, a new study reveals.

A new study – Realisation of Full Potential of the Agriculture Sector: Is Commercial Financing a Care Missing Gap – released yesterday by Kenya Bankers Association (KBA) states that mobile telephony is having a transformative impact on delivery of extension services, market information and financial service.

“Based on anecdotal evidence gathered during the present study, this is one area where past public-sector investments through increased expenditure and policy regulatory reforms could have generated the greatest impact,” states the study.

KBA chief executive Habil Olaka said that even though telecommunication among other infrastructure services such roads and electricity is limited in most far-flung rural areas, a substantial number of farmers are using the device to receive information on various issues which they use to make the right decisions.

“Sufficient physical infrastructure reduces the cost of post-harvest handling and processing,” he added.

But a section of private sector players fault organisations that are using mobile phones to provide information to smallholders saying some messages lack quality. Eastern Africa Farmers Federation chief executive Stephen Muchiri, said that agriculture extension for long has been grappling with inadequate budgetary resources.

In every country in Africa, according to an African Union report, budgetary allocation to finance extension services is insufficient thus contributing to a big margin on the number of extension officers to farmers.

But though the mobile telephone has been seen to transform the extension services, Muchiri stressed on the need to enhance quality of content being disseminated through the gadgets.

“Though the use of mobile phone is exciting, farmers are now getting tired from the many launched mobile technology platforms. Farmers register, subscribe to them, but some fade away after sometime despite having charged the growers. When you look at a lot of these messages, they are not targeted at the recipient of the message,” he said.

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