Ethiopia is one among few African countries who invest significantly in its extension system. As a result, nationwide over 17 million farmers are served by a little over 14000 FTCs and well over 60,000 development agents. Despite the high farmer to development agents’ ratio and pluralistic agricultural advisory service provisions, the number of farmers using full package agricultural technologies remain below 25%. The national extension strategy, in its second pillar, identified limited use of ICT services to reach out to farmers as one of the major limitations of the current advisory system.
Cognizant of this challenge, one of the projects under the Sustainable Agricultural Intensification Research and Learning in Africa have been trying to develop an approach which will use ICT applications to advisory services on sustainable intensification to enable household specific targeting of advisory messages. Taking this particular research project as an entry, the Ethiopian National Learning Alliance on Sustainable Intensification has been engaging various actors in the agricultural sector with an interest of using ICT to reach out to farmers. One of the observations by the NLA facilitation team and various stakeholders’ engagement has been lack of comprehensive understanding on who is doing what in using ICT to reach out to farmers. Hence, the market place event is meant to fill the gap by initiating a process for networking among service providers and users of ICT for advisory services.
Similar discussion was held between MoA-Directorate of Extension, CASCAPE and Farm Radio International to conduct stakeholders workshop combined with exhibition, on “ICT in Agricultural Extension” with the overall purpose of sharing experience in usage of ICT tools in Agricultural extension and identifying ICT tools and approaches that need to be scaled up. Following these two on-going discussions and plan, MoA-Directorate of Extension has organized small planning meeting with representative partners (Staff of Directorate of Extension, CASACAPE, SAIRLA/NLA and FRI Ethiopia) to harmonize the two events.
Accordingly, it was deliberated that the two events have similar objectives, hence, agreed to organize a joint event on “stakeholders dialogue and market place on ICT in Agricultural Extension in Ethiopia” under the coordination of the Directorate of Extension, MoA.