Digital Platform for Farmer- Extension worker Interaction (DiPFEwI)

In 2016 I participated in scaling up a technology aimed at enhancing production of clean and healthy vegetables in three central districts of Uganda. This gave me the opportunity to understand the challenges confounding farming in Uganda. For the farmers that I interacted with,  crop pests and diseases came on the top of their list. These farmers possessed a certain degree of information about the possible chemicals that could be used to contain the diseases, but little or no mention was made about the use of biocontrol agents in their crop protection program. Additionally, the farmers also applied excess pest and fungicides above the recommended levels. Worse more, harvesting of vegetables was done while the chemicals were still on the vegetables.

This background informed the decision of  a team at Centre for Life Sciences (a start-up company) to develop an application (currently for android) that would enhance connectivity between our extension workers who would  efficiently give feedback to the farmers regarding  diagnosis of certain pest and diseases and also give us a chance to interact with them later in realtime. The platform dubbed “Digital Platform for Farmer- Extension worker Interaction (DiPFEwI)” will go a long way in offering crop protection solutions through providing accurate and reliable information about crop pests and diseases as well as recommending effective crop protection agents (chemical and biopesticides) .With this platform, farmers will be able to keep in touch with our extension workers for routine inspection and surveillance of pest and disease incidents on farm as well as give recommendations on the most suitable crop protection options  and where they can be accessed.

In the process of developing this digital platform, we shall compile a database of farmers whom we shall test this technology and track its operation before scaling it out to the wider populace. Later, an app shall be developed for  android  and apple systems to make it easy for the farmer to upload photos of the diseases and pests and this will assist us to assess disease and pest cases and a response from the Extension workers Command Centre (EwCC) will be generated. This will also help the EwCC decipher a rough diagnosis of the disease or pest and have an idea before actual onsite inspection and diagnosis. Meanwhile, due to the limited internet connectivity, we shall also incorporate message (sms) system in which the farmers will be able to contact our extension agents by sending a message and a rapid response shall then take course to assist the farmer in need. In this system, we shall also capture the service providers offering various crop protection solutions so that the farmers can easily get to purchase particular chemicals or biocontrol agents as we shall have recommended after onsite assessment of the crop protection need.

Denis Ogwal, Uganda

41 comments

  1. This is a very nice platform as it will be able to increase connectivity between farmers and extension workers plus agro-input dealers. The fact that each farmer can afford a telephone and internet or even sending an sms ( message) is a valid tool to integrate information technology for smart farming!!

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    1. Well this will alot help improve farmers’productivity allover the world and especially in my country Uganda with the available opportunity of great interaction.

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    2. Very true. Majority of the Smallholder farmers are facing a challenge of reaching out extension workers and agro input dealers , this will smoothen everything .though there is need to first work on the knowledge gap as far technology is concerned among farmers

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  2. This is very easy and read and understand platform. I will be very easy for the farmers and consumers to access and make use of it for more agribusiness and modernization of agricultural production. The fact that farmers can now easily afford smartphones they will easily link up with each others and find the right marketing places for the products. Thanks guys for all these brain works. Good vines only comes from God. Thanks.

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  3. This great . It’s going to bridge gap between farmers and various stakeholders to manage some challenges faced by farmers.

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  4. This will be a very good addition to the grassroot farmer in Uganda as relates to enhancement in technology. The biggest problem affecting farmers in Uganda today is pests and diseases and will be curbed through consistent checks and monitoring.
    Thank you Mr. Denis Ogwal for this innovation.

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  5. Nice Work Denis, i think this will help a lot, because this is a realife problem that the solution is trying to solve. fhundreds of farmers are facing such challenges daily. so please push it on.

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  6. Denis and team we at dither technologies wish all the best in your endavour to see that happen, you have always been enthuasist in that, so just make it happen, Denis we miss you here, however we want to see the idea succed cse it really helps. farmers need that direct communication with extension workers because one of the challenges affecting agricultural production here is lack of information in all aspects of agriculture. so congs for the steps so far.

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  7. Well done Denis, I believe this platform will boost the agricultural sector and also help overcome the disappointments and challenges faced by most farming businesses.

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  8. Brilliant product for a technology forward world; because proper identification of pest and disease will not only help reduce costs of production by avoiding the use of wrong and ineffective controls but also go a long way in protecting the environment in the long run. The incorporation of the text message function makes it even more inclusive. Well done!

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  9. This is a very good innovation in as far as digitalising crop protection sector is concerned and well as saving time for extension workers and farmers too. thanx to the brains behind this development

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  10. Great idea in this era of digitalization. Most average small holder farmers however still do not own smart phones. Including a basic SMS platform of communication from both sides could go a long way in reaching a bigger farmer base

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  11. Great idea Denis and team, Uganda needs technological advancement in each sector if everything is to be streamlined, I this is a big plus to the agricultural sector. Hands up..

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    1. Agriculture extension is still a challenge in Uganda.
      Besides having less extension workers, there’s a logistical problem. Rural farmers are hard to reach.

      Good news is, they have phones.
      This’s platform will be vital in reaching out to them.

      Augmented by the recently adopted single spine agriculture extension system, DiPFEwI will deliver the long needed extension services to the deepest parts of Uganda.

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  12. This is agreat idea in such timing.It will help to curb the pest and disease affecting crops timely and thus there will be a great increase in yield especially since my country Uganda has a more comparative advantage in Agriculture.

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  13. this is great piece of work Ogwal denis. Farmers and agriculture have not yet received the software and the technology they need and i think this will fill the gap and create more opportunities for them and the whole Market industry as well. W e wish you well and success in this.

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  14. Looks great! I really hope this platform will make a difference! Combining knowledge is always a good idea! All the best Uganda!

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  15. What a brilliant idea!most farmers will benefit from it thus economic development in our country. Wish you all the best.

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  16. Thank you Denis and team, please work harder. Success comes from sweat, make this happen because its really needed here in our setting.

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  17. Excellent ideology and a powerful driver of positive change in the performance and evolution of smallholder systems with regard to diagnosis of important agricultural pests and diseases. Kudos!

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  18. Great idea Denis, as to us the farmers i believe this platform will help us increase our productivity since new advanced ways of farming will b taught to us and fighting the problems we face.
    Thanks alot for this initiative.

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  19. I think it is such technologies that will propelled us into the next generation in agriculture. I love the way such a platform bridges the gap between farmers and extension agents.

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  20. And it is generally agreed that farmers anywhere—especially in the developing world—need timely and reliable information, and solutions to navigate the increasing challenges in agriculture. This is a great initiative tapping into an especially rapidly growing resource (over 25m Ugandans—more than 70% of the population—own mobile phones) to deliver impact for farmers. Good job guys!

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  21. Nice work Denis and team, i think this project will improve the agricultural sector so much since most of our farmers lack information for which this platform is going to bridge the gap.

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  22. This is a great and innovative idea. There has been a lack of linkage among players for instance farmers-extensionists-experts in agricultural production. This kind of interaction provides a wider platform for knowledge sharing and faster response to farmers’ challenges. As a matter of fact, this innovation applies to all farmer categories for instance animal production (poultry, piggery, dairy…..etc) and crop production (fruits, vegetable, roots and tubers… etc). I therefore suggest you widen your knowledge base by including or liaising with experts (veterinary scientists, agronomists, pathologists, breeders, ….etc).
    Keep it up.

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