International Women’s Day 2014: Women in agriculture

A female pearl millet farmer with part of her harvest © ICRISAT
A female pearl millet farmer with part of her harvest © ICRISAT

I would like to acknowledge Abigail Rumsey, Claire Curry, Emily Palmer and Léna Durocher-Granger for their contributions to this blog post.

For over a century countries globally have celebrated International Women’s Day as a day to reflect on the role of women in society. In honor of International Women’s Day 2014 we are giving a special focus to women in agriculture. Continue reading

Direct2Farm reaches 4 million farmers in India

D2F mobile services have reached 4 million farmers in India. Credit: Sharbendu Banerjee © CABI
D2F mobile services have reached 4 million farmers in India. Credit: Sharbendu Banerjee © CABI

The Direct2Farm (D2F) project, run by CABI, provides mobile information services to farmers in India. Two D2F initiatives in India that use voice-based systems to communicate with farmers, mKisan and IKSL, have now cumulatively reached over 4 million farmers. The use of mobile technology allows extension messages to reach isolated communities that have few means of accessing such information. Continue reading

How Mobile Technology is Transforming Livestock Farming In Kenya

A fish farmer in Nigeria using a mobile phone to communicate to buyers in the capital © Reboot via Flickr (CC-BY-NC 2.0)
A fish farmer in Nigeria using a mobile phone to communicate to buyers in the capital © Reboot via Flickr (CC-BY-NC 2.0)

Farmers and vets across Africa are increasingly using mobile phones to issue alerts about potential pest and disease outbreaks. The recent introduction of mobile phones that use the open source Android operating system or the iPhone iOS operating system and include GPS and Google Maps have provided new opportunities for developing mobile phone applications, allowing communication between field workers and their project databases. ‘Smartphones’ offer computer like functionality and internet connectivity with built in Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers that give a detailed location reference.

Mobile phone applications can be installed on the phone to issue early warnings of pest and disease outbreaks. In Kenya, where three out of four people are reported to have a mobile phone, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has partnered with the Royal Veterinary College and local NGO VetAid to support pilot testing of a mobile phone application called EpiCollect, developed by a research team led by David Aanensen at Imperial College London. EpiCollect is a generic software developed for Android and iPhone which allows multiple data records to be entered and stored on a mobile phone and linked to a central web application that allows mapping, visualisation and analysis of data from a central database. The latitude, longitude and altitude of the current position of the user is returned from the GPS unit of the phone.

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How The Gates Foundation and Carlos Slim are Supporting Innovation and Crop Improvement For Farmers

Carlos Slim, Bill Gates and Mexican Dignitaries visit CIMMYT to inaugurate the new Bioscience facilities © Eruviel Avila (CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Carlos Slim, Bill Gates and Mexican Dignitaries visit CIMMYT to inaugurate the new Bioscience facilities © Eruviel Avila (CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0)

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Fundación Carlos Slim have announced a partnership in support of efforts by the Centro Internacional de Mejoramiento de Maíz y Trigo (International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center CIMMYT) in Mexico to develop and disseminate higher-yielding, more resilient wheat and maize varieties. Continue reading

Shouting out about plant clinics

Farmers bring their diseased crops to a plant clinic for diagnosis and treatment advice © Sven Torfinn / Panos Pictures

Plantwise works with in-country agencies to set up plant clinics, which farmers can attend with a sample of their affected crops to obtain a diagnosis and treatment advice. Plant clinics are often run in larger towns or villages, and farmers can travel many miles to talk to a plant doctor to solve their crop problems. So how do farmers find out about where and when the next clinic is running? I asked co-ordinators of plant clinics in Sierra Leone, Uganda and India about how clinics in their countries are advertised to farmers. Continue reading