Response of farmer’s to the use of digital farming in Nigeria
Since time immemorial, agriculture has played a major role in the social, political and economic lives of different people across the Africa continent. According to Nigeria Bureau of statistics, agricultural sector contributes 21.2% to the Gross Domestic Product in 2018. Also, a World Bank report says that the sector employs 65% of the workforce in the region. Furthermore, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) predicts that Agriculture sector will grow to about 1 trillion dollars at the end of 2030. However, despite all these promising projections, agriculture sector continue to suffer low productivity as a result of many factors. One of the major constraints in this regard is the lack of access to application of new technologies. Many authors have suggested that opening up farmers in this region to scientific discoveries will not only bring about economic growth but also have positive effect on the rural community. A 2011 report by Ohikere and Arudi stated there was a wide gap between research findings and farmers. Hence, there is a need to identify peculiarities among different farmers and then find a way to disseminate appropriate information about new and affordable technology. Although, the adoption of technology can come in different forms, however, one of the most effective ways to achieve this is to provide adequate information for farmers which will assist them in making decisions in choosing the technology most suited to them. The information could be disseminated by using online agricultural platforms with the aim of giving technical assistance to them in form of digital technology. In view of this, a study was carried out by The Mobile Plant Clinic team to determine the response and attitude of farmers in the use of digital technologies (website and applications) in Nigeria.
The study was carried out in Aba-egbira farm settlement in Ado Ekiti and Eyenkorin farm settlement in Ilorin. The crop cultivated by respondents includes yam, maize, cassava and vegetables. When asked if they have heard of any online platform, 82% of the respondents said Yes as against 18% who said No.
Despite knowing about online agricultural platforms, only 12% of them said they use their phones to look for agricultural news. The remaining 88% only use their phones for other purpose but agriculture related news.
This discovery is also similar to the observation of many opinion leaders that sustained adoption of innovation is the main problem of most farmers in developing nations. The study also shows that a vast majority of the farmers are interested in adopting digital farming. For instance, 98% said they will be interested in letting people from other part of the country know about their product by placing it online, 92% also said they are interested in online training. Unfortunately, when asked if anybody has introduced them to a specific platform suited to their individual need, only 6% said Yes as against 94% that said No. Despite many farmer’s interest in embracing this technology, not all of them are aware of places they can even go online to satisfy their needs, hence, there is a need for more awareness among stakeholders on the importance of digital farming for farmers. Interestingly, majority of the respondents that showed eagerness to learn more about farming through digital farming are those that attended Mobile Plant Clinic training that was conducted in January, implying there was a correlation between awareness and interest of farmers in adopting new technology.
The challenges of farmers in developing nations range from inconsistent government policies to lack of access to credit facilities, inadequate education among others. However, it is evident from our findings that the main challenge facing farmers is not the adoption of new innovations but creating awareness proper awareness to stimulate their interest. Adequate awareness about digital farming will also go a long way to providing a platform for the farmers to get direct information about new and improved ways of doing things which will lead to socio-economic development across the region.
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Ohikere, J.Z. and Arudi, I. S. (2011). Challenges to the transfer of agricultural technologies in Nigeria. Nigerian Society for Experimental Biology 11(1) 29-35
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