Extension systems in Africa are usually understaffed and lacking resources. Mobile phone applications delivering agronomic advice to farmers are therefore often seen as a strategy to improve advice delivery to smallholder farmers. At the same time such applications hold promise for the collection of more comprehensive, relevant, and accurate agricultural statistics. In order to fulfil these functions, mobile phone apps not only need to be used by large numbers of users, (operating in diverse environments), but also by different types of knowledge deliverers, such as agro-dealers, extension workers and farmers themselves.
Supporting advice delivery at scale by extensionists and agro-dealers
CIMMYT’s Taking Maize Agronomy to Scale in Africa (TAMASA) project currently develops an agronomic advisory application – Maize-Seed-Area – together potential users in western Kenya. It builds on farmers’ advice needs, as identified by researchers, agro-dealers and government extension workers in the domain of maize agronomy and variety choice.
Late January 2018, TAMASA will, together with its partner Precision Agriculture for Development (PAD) in Busia, pilot the Maize-Seed-Area mobile application with some hundred extension workers and agro-dealers operating in West Kenya. Agro-dealers and extension workers will be trained in the use of an ODK-based application, and given a chance to use this app in their daily practice of business for a period of 2 months.
To support the pilot, TAMASA is looking for 1-2 MSc students in agronomy or development studies interested in agricultural extension / farming systems analysis / agricultural innovation systems analysis.
- Backstopping/supporting/troubleshooting app users in their respective operational areas (‘helpdesk’);
- App data collection monitoring, targeting users for interviewing, and stimulating use and feedback provision by pilot users.
Interviewing users and advice seekers/receivers on the usability of the application;
- Reporting on user and advice receiver feedback, identification of related advice needs, etc.
- Participating in the pilot may also provide an opportunity for the development of a MSc-thesis research project.
- Working independently (supervision at a distance);
- Willingness to travel a lot by public transport in western Kenya (visiting farmers, agro-dealers, extension workers);
- Familiarity with Open Data Kit (ODK) data collection, and Android phone use is preferred;
- Fluency in English (knowledge of Swahili would be great!);
TAMASA financially assists students for travel costs to/fro western Kenya, and with travel costs within in western Kenya. Accommodation and daily subsistence costs are not covered by TAMASA.
- CIMMYT-Nairobi, in collaboration with
- Precision Agriculture for Development (PAD), Busia.
Busia, Siyaia, Kakamega, Bungoma counties, Western Kenya.