Cell phones connect farmers to a food secure future
By Bruce Campbell
Farmers have been at the forefront of changes and “shocks” since time immemorial, so are well placed to counter climate change. However, “coping” is insufficient if food security is to be achieved. Farmers need to know what kind of season is coming, and thus what and when to plant. They need to know about the outbreak of new pests and diseases. On the longer term, they need to know whether a shift in crop species or different farming strategies are needed. A cornerstone of active adaptation is information availability: varieties to grow, diversification options, seasonal climate forecasts, flood and cyclone warnings, pest and disease outbreaks, market options.
Public extension services in the agricultural sector in developing countries are essentially in crisis! Fortunately, the explosion in cell phone ownership and coverage has provided some relief to information-poor farmers.