We utilize digital solutions both as a way to complement the knowledge that farmers gain from our field-based activities and as a means to spread this experience to a wider network of farmers. We provide verified and easy-to-access information, delivering it where farmers are most present and comfortable. We also evaluate and pilot new digital channels, platforms, and innovations that will increase the menu of appropriate digital options and better enable the inclusion of different socio-economic groups.
Digital Crop Guides and Extension Materials
GrowHow is our digital platform that provides full public access to a wide range of extension materials, including crop production guides, technical guides, management guides, and instructional videos, with content available in 33 languages.
Our General Vegetable Production (GVP) program is an online learning platform developed to train our teams, farmers, agricultural-input retailers, students, and extension workers. The platform is available in Bahasa, Bengali, English, Filipino, French, Myanmar, Hausa, Khmer, Hindi, Odia, Swahili, and Thai. All of the GVP courses are self-paced.
The GVP program includes the following certification courses:
Vegetable Production Beginner – Designed for our non-technical staff and curious participants who are newbies in vegetable production.
Crop Advisor Trainer – Designed for our technical staff and other extension workers who want to acquire more advanced technical knowledge in vegetable production.
Agrobusiness – Designed for dealers of agro-input products to enable them to confidently advise their customers on best practices in vegetable production.
Find more information about the GVP program here.
Audio files are an effective and easy way to share knowledge and best practices. They also consume little data and are relatively easy to make. Podcasts present technical farming advice, as well as farmer interviews and stories, in local languages.
Instructional videos used on social media and GrowHow link distant learners to actual field experience. Our initial focus on technical crop production is being complemented with videos on mobile literacy, farm records and calculations, and business skills development.
WhatsApp / Messenger Groups
WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger groups are used in all countries to foster dialogue between specific groups of farmers. Where possible, we encourage teams to include traders in these groups. The chat groups are extremely popular, particularly with younger farmers, and have proved especially valuable as an easily accessible training platform during COVID lockdowns.
Mobile Learning Solutions
In 2020, EWS-KT and Wageningen University & Research partnered with tech company Funzi to pilot a lightweight mobile learning solution. The pilot program enabled farmers to access training on smartphones and feature phones, with minimal data charges. The course Vegetable Seedling Production covered three modules: planning seedling production, ground nurseries, and cellular seedling production.
EWS-KT partnered with Solidaridad and Kucheza to pilot a game-based learning approach to farm economics. The program aims to build awareness, knowledge, and skills to enable sustainable business decisions. A post-pilot study by Wageningen University & Research will indicate if and how this or similar approaches can best be integrated into future training activities.
We have developed our own mobile app for internally monitoring the progress and return on investment of demonstration farms and for tracking farmers participating in field training events.
Radio is an effective way to share information with farmers and inspire other listeners to begin farming. Since 2019, we have hosted a weekly Hausa-language radio show in northern Nigeria, while our teams in Tanzania and Uganda broadcast every two weeks. The radio programs cover a variety of vegetable farming topics and include a live call-in session with farmers.
In 2021, we conducted a study with the National Agricultural Extension and Research Liaison Services (NAERLS) in Nigeria to better understand the impact and potential of radio as a means of reaching farmers.
SMS Text Messaging
With most farmers still using feature phones, we are exploring options for sharing technical content through interactive SMS and WhatsApp messages. This will enable users to receive timely advice at key stages of their crop production cycle. An ongoing pilot with farmers in Tanzania is being supported to assess the effectiveness of SMS as a means of service delivery.
Moderated Social Media Groups
Social media not only serves as a platform for farmers to share experiences but also enables us to connect with farmers who have no exposure to our field activities. We share the location and status of demonstration farms, information on training events, and market prices with groups of farmers and traders. We currently moderate discussion on the following Facebook groups: