Some of the major challenges hampering agricultural development in Sub Saharan Africa are Climate variability and change (CV&C), and limited access to reliable and timely information for farmers. The impact of climate variability has altered Nigeria’s rainfall and temperature regimes over the past decade; and the main victims of this disparity have been farm-household whose soils’ productive capacity and means of livelihood have been destroyed. Most small- and large-scale farmers today are missing out on improved farming methods and information that contributes significantly to their productivity. Farmers located in remote areas have it worse because they have limited means of accessing information following their inability to operate and afford technological devices like smartphones and thus, serves as a setback in achieving the much needed productivity.
The ECSAgric Project aims to contribute to filling this gap. These has led to the development of an approach that encourages the adaptation of Climate-Smart Agricultural (CSA) practices that contributes to the productivity of Small Household Farmers (SMFs). In response to these challenges, we are examining the use of a smartphone app (ExCitesS’ Sapelli) developed primarily, yet not entirely, for low-literate farmers alongside intuitive data visualization tools (MfC’s Community Maps) that will enable SHFs to monitor land use and increase SHFs awareness, understanding and adaptation of practices towards CSA. The project formed three Climate Responsive Groups (CRGs) of farmers, each across the selected agro-ecological zones (forest, southern guinea and coastal) in the Southwest Nigeria. There was a 2-month field engagement with the farmers in these zones to train them on the use of the apps and harvest feedback on areas of improvement. The Sapelli bird is an innovation that helps record challenges on their farm and send to the WhatsApp group for prompt response from extension officers and other farmers that might want to recommend solutions; the Community Map is the second innovation that allows a farmer to record data on his farm from the comfort of his home while mapping out his land. These two apps were designed to facilitate communication between farmers and extension officers while solving the problem of limited access to information of farmers. The system has been adapted during the project with the aim of; i) enhancing collaboration between farmers and extension workers; ii) contributing to democratizing the use and production of geographic information in general, and land use information in particular, to support informed decision-making process.
Having completed the co-designing and engagement phase, a stakeholders’ meeting was held to provide a wilder dissemination of the project through demonstration of the tools for the key decision makers to assess and offer feedbacks, while making necessary contributions on how to improve the technology. This meeting was also held to look for possible means of collaboration with Government Agencies for sustainable climate-smart agriculture. The meeting was held on 10th of June, 2021 at the IBD Hotel Conference Hall. Several relevant feedbacks were harvested during the meeting that will help in the improvement of the tools; the feedback from the representative of the Institute of Food Security, Environmental Resources and Agricultural Research (IFSERAR) was that the innovation can help promote youth participation in Agriculture, especially with the concept of digital innovations and also there is the need to access fund from development agencies to help the implementers achieve wide coverage and scale the innovations. He also acknowledged the effort of the Environmental and Economic Resource Centre (EERC) for the work well done under the ESCAgric project. Also, from the Ogun state Agricultural Development Program (OGADEP), it was revealed that the technology appears to only provide a means of responding to farmers’ challenges whereas, basic agronomic guide could as well be incorporated to help farmers address upcoming challenges. The impact of this project is that it will help in building community participation towards climate change action, enhance food systems and rural settlements that are resilient to climate change (SDGs 9&11). It will also build farmers-extension worker relationship. Delivering information in time that will promote agricultural productivity and contribute to food security.