COVID-19: How cassava digital application will help farmers – AATF

The African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) says digital applications are gradually opening new vistas of opportunities for farmers to ensure are not left out of the revolution.

Ms Nancy Muchiri of the Communications and Partnerships Unit of the foundation, made this known on Monday in a statement made available in Abuja.

She said this had become necessary as African smallholder farmers struggle with restrictions imposed on them due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

She said the application was recently released to help cassava mechanisation services application referred to as “AgridriveApp” that allowed farmers to request for various mechanisation services from their farms.

The App, which is accessible on mobile phones in both online and offline modes has special features for farmers and mechanisation equipment operators.

“It requires ranging from tractor mechanisation service, booking application, tractor tracking, equipment inventory, extension services, weather reports, Call Centre Service (for the market, produce price, transportation, storage and farmer event information).

“Others are Internet of Things (IoT), machine learning, and artificial intelligence including predictive analysis regarding future mechanisation market opportunities.

“The App is GPS enabled and allows farmers to choose their farm locations, when a farmer needs a service, the farmer simply fills the required details including size of the farm and the preferred date for the service.

“The request is then automatically entered into the system and sent to the system administrator with a copy to the farmer,” he said.

Muchiri said the application was also targeted at encouraging young farmers, majority of whom had  abandoned farming due to various reasons.

“And the app will easily be made available to them with some of the technological solutions they seek,’’ she said.

She said that Agridrive Ltd., the owner of the App, is a subsidiary of the AATF offering cassava mechanisation services across the crop value chain.

These include ploughing, harrowing, planting, herbicide application, weeding, harvesting, and logistics operations for marketing.

Mr George Marechera, the Managing Director, Agridrive Ltd., said the “App is a digital technology that can offer significant advantages to smallholder farmers even during times of need such as this COVID-19 period.’’

“The App is effective in ensuring business continuity while also reducing contact between Agridrive staff and farmers which reduces the risks associated with the spread of COVID-19 by promoting social distancing.’’

He said that the App enables farmers to book and pay for mechanisation services without the need for personal contact with the mechanisation equipment service provider.

“This also ensures the continued provision of much needed food in Nigeria thereby averting food insecurity related to COVID-19.

“The App is leveraging digital technology to transform the delivery of mechanisation services to enable farmers to overcome temporary COVID-19-related constraints and ensure better and more effective service delivery, especially in remote areas in Nigeria.”

He said that farmers in Oyo and Ogun states were currently using the App to book services covering approximately 260 hectares for ploughing and harrowing, and a further 160 hectares for cassava planting. (NAN)