ADDIS ABABA- The Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA) said that the 8020 Farmer Hotline has become the largest interactive voice response and short message service system in Africa.
During a commemoration event held yesterday, ATA CEO Kahlid Bomba said that since the inception in July 2014, the Hotline has received 30 million total calls and 3.6 million registered telephone numbers, which consist of smallholder farmers and agricultural Development Agents.
The CEO noted that the Hotline is beneficial for small holder farmers to get information on farming practices, while federal ministers and state bureaus send SMS messages to warn the farmers the occurrences of diseases and pests.
The Hotline has helped to alert farmers on the prevalence of crop protection issues such as what rust, maize lethal necrosis disease, and fall army worm in areas affected by these threats, the CEO added.
Khalid indicated that the platform also enables the farmers to get customized information from experts by calling in and leaving voice messages with question. The system in turn contains a survey feature used by Development Agents to collect information that allows for real-time decision making by policy makers.
Agriculture and Livestock Resources State Minister Dr. Eyasu Abreha said on his part that that the need for accurate, timely and trusted information in the agriculture value chain initiate the launch of the service.
The State Minister noted that to deliver valuable information to the small holder farmers and properly support the various agricultural value chains, information communication technologies play important roles.
To this end, the Ministry facilitated 8028 Farmers' Hotline. In the platform, issues related to agriculture such as ways of utilization of fertilizer, mechanization, air condition, soil information and others useful information disseminated.
Having access to input and markets at optimal prices; financial services, payments, credit and saving services, insurance and others are issues farmers want to know about, he added.
"Since agriculture is a backbone of the country,. Hence, transforming the sector would have paramount of importance to country's economic transformation."
He further stressed that though the utilization of Hotline by farmers is started in a very recent time, it is yielding a multifaceted advantages. The Ministry would work closely with stakeholders to enhance the utilization of the system, the State Minister noted.