Mbabane: The Centre for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development for Southern Africa (CCARDESA) has continued promoting its Mobile Learning Application targeted at extension in the SADC region.
Working closely with Eswatini ‘s Ministry of Agriculture, CCARDESA hosted a mobile promotion earlier this week at George Hotel where agriculture extension officers from the four regions were in attendance.
Opening the meeting, Chief Research Officer, Smilo Mavimbela said the App facilitates agricultural research and development information sharing. “CCARDESA mobile App could not have come at a better time than this, when the World is experiencing one of the worst pandemics of all times. COVID 19 has restricted movement of service providers such as extension practitioners.
“The App will enable our sector to remain in touch with clientele even under these challenging times. In Eswatini, almost everybody owns a smart phone or have access to one. We see this as an opportunity that will allow our extension service to reach a huge number of our clients easier, faster and much more cost effective. This huge reach, if well harnessed by Agricultural Extension, can change the face of agriculture altogether in the Kingdom of Eswatini,” said Mavimbela.
The application provides useful features for extension officers and designed to work offline owing to the fact that it does not come with huge data costs. But only the discussion forum and user directory that need internet to update.
CCARDESA’s Information and Communication and Knowledge Management focal person in Eswatini, Bongani Mvubu, explained to the extension officers the need to accommodate digital tools to enhance extension work to address challenges facing farmers in communities. He explained that the application was has relevant information that can meet the urgent information needs of the farmers. He urged farmers to make good use of the application to access research work and network effectively with researchers and experts in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) region.
“The importance of the mobile application provides a platform where you access and share information on various topics about agriculture with interesting topics around climate smart agriculture and good and high yielding practices. It is now up to us to ensure that we communicate to others and manage this resourceful tool”. said Mvubu.
At the same function, CCARDESA’s, Information, Communication and Knowledge Management Officer, Bridget Kakuwa, through virtual platform gave a brief overview of CCARDESA to the extension officers.
She said CCARDESA is committed to its role and mandate of knowledge brokerage in the SADC region and is pleased that Eswatini is joining arms to support it. She further highlighted how CCARDESA through its Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme ex-Pillar 4 (CAADP-XP4) is working closely with eSwatini to strengthen agricultural research and innovation, including extension services, as well as contribute effectively to food and nutrition security; economic development and climate mitigation.
Kakuwa also acknowledged immerse contribution that the SADC-GIZ- Adaptation to Climate Change in Rural Areas of Southern Africa (ACCRA) has put in supporting the development of the CCARDESA’s Mobile Learning information App and the ICKM system.
“The mobile app is what has brought us here. It will allow you to navigate and also learn information that you can share with farmers on the ground so that they can have higher yields despite the effects of climate change.
The extension officer at Kalanga Rural Development Area, Ntombifuthi Nkambule said the application migrates all the stakeholders into the digital space gradually moving away from manual old way of doing things.
“Basically, the App brings the extension officers, farmers, researchers, specialists and the entire farming family. This App is an important tool to extension staff. An officer can be in a situation where he or she must assist a farmer or cunduct training on a certain crop where she or he might have limited knowledge on. But now with the App, it’s like you are moving around with a group of other extension officers, where one gets practical information instantly.
“It is also helpful even to farmers. They need not wait for the extension officer. A farmer can easily consult the App to access information he or she wants,” said Nkambule.
The CCARDESA mobile App attracted 266 extension officers who promised to embrace the new technology and take it to the farmers around the country.