African Cassava Agronomy Initiative (ACAI) has started interacting with partners and farmers virtually in Tanzania because of COVID-19. The project has taken steps to minimize the exposure to infection for both staff, partners and farmers. This is in respect to the guidelines by health officials in the country to avoid unnecessary contact and to keep a safe distance.
Before the pandemic, ACAI in Tanzania was working on a pretest chatbot developed by one of the project’s digital partner ARIFU to see how farmers will interact with the platform and identify ways of improving. Under normal circumstances the pretest exercise had been scheduled for interactive sessions across the areas the ACAI is working in Tanzania.
However, is now being done virtually through SMS, teleconferences and WhatsApp groups where select farmers and extension agents review the content and provide feedback for improving the chatbot. According to Omari Mwantumu ACAI Scaling Assistant in Tanzania, more than 250 farmers and 50 extension agents from the Lake and Eastern Zones have responded to the pretest.
The project is also with another digital partner eSOKO to profile cassava farmers in Tanzania to help develop targeted content that is specific to the farmers’ needs like accurate weather and market price via SMS. The farmer profiling exercise is recording information on current agronomical practices, input use and farming objectives using the Insyt tool developed by eSOKO for that purpose.
ACAI will also carry out online training with Kilimo Joint for affiliated secondary partners, to create awareness of use of fertilizer in Cassava. ACAI project continues to find innovative ways to keep cassava farmers and partners engaged to respond to arising needs.
All our partners are advised to observe safety measures and guidelines as stipulated by Governments of Nigeria and Tanzania where the project operates.