Farmers and extension agents have been trained by the Nigerian Institute of Soil Science (NISS) on how to use the newly developed and upgraded NISSAGRO mobile app to address challenges in the farm and also get information on good agronomic practices.
During the training of North-Central farmers and Extension agents, the NISS Coordinator for North-Central, Professor Akim Osunde said the NISSAGRO mobile App is an invention by the NISS technical department to ease the work of farmers, particularly extension agents
The professor of soil fertility lamented that in Nigeria, one extension agent attends to about 2000 farmers which he said is grossly inadequate.
“In Nigeria, most places they have one extension worker to about 2000 farmers and that is not possible these days, that is why the link between the extension worker and the farmers is gradually being lost.
“But with this NISSAGRO mobile App, it makes it easy for an extension agent to link up with the farmers on the App so that their challenges on the field can be relayed back to the extension agent without necessarily visiting the farmer on the field.
“There are so many things the App organises, the farmer can have a chat directly with extension agents and registered soil scientists. All registered soil scientists in Nigeria are designated in the App so farmers can contact any of them depending on their areas of speciality,” he said.
Professor Osunde further stated that the App provides a visual process where even a photograph of the soil or crop can be taken and uploaded on the App.
“The types of fertiliser to apply for each locality in Nigeria are embedded in the App because the GPS location is captured for whichever area the farmer finds himself.
“This is part of the primary mandate of the NISS. The Institute primarily regulates the profession of soil science in Nigeria and also promotes the services of soil scientists in trying the aid the management of soil resources of the country and thereby improving food production.
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“The training is being organised in the form of train the trainer, what the institute has done is to train extension workers and farmers. In August 2022, we conducted this training in the six Geopolitical zones and we invited 28 participants (two extension agents and two farmers from each zone).
“These trainees are required to go back to the domain and have a group of extension agents they would be able to capture and same with the farmers,” he added.
One of the trainees, Bilikisu Isiaka, a farmer from Lokoja Local Government, Kogi State said she was trained in August this year on how to use the NISSAGRO App and it has been helpful to her.
“In August last year, we were trained on NISSAGRO App, and how to use it, even if you are on the farm. If your friend on the farm needs assistance, you can just enter the App and call on whatever assistance you want and you will get the response immediately,” she noted.
She said she used it on her maize farm in Lokoja after she discovered a challenge in her farm, she called one of the scientists and the issue was resolved.
Hadi Danlami, an extension agent from Plateau State and also a trainee said the App is informative, and he has used it to train several farmers who now use the App while farming.
“I attended the first training at Minna, the App is very good, very informative, as an agricultural extension agent, the App has helped me to train the farmers on the information I gathered at the training.
“I even trained the farmers on how to use the App l, most of the farmers are now using the App, actually the App is very good”, he said.
He said that some specialists that they are expected to contact in Plateau state are not on the App. Danlami urged NISS to add specialists to the App.