Panellists at the 68th Annual New Year School and Conference have called for the combination of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Extension (E-extension) and the traditional extension system to boost agricultural production in the country.

The panellists also called for the revitalisation of agriculture extension service by empowering extension officers to use ICT to reach out to the nation’s hard working farmers.

E-extension is the use of ICT such as mobile telephony to reach out to farmers with services and information for their activities.

Speaking on the topic: “E-extension and Adoption in Agriculture,” at the University of Ghana, the panellists were of the view that although the benefits of E-extension outweighed the traditional extension, combining both would enhance performance.

The panellists were made up of Professor Festus Annor-Frimpong, the Head of Department of Agricultural Economics and Extension, University of Cape Coast, Dr Francis Baah, the Executive Director, Cocoa Health and Extension, and Mr Theophilus Osei Owusu, the Deputy Director of Communication, Ministry of Food and Agriculture.

Prof Annor-Frimpong said the use of technologies such as electronic media and mobile telephony ensured that farmers had timely access to extension services.

He said food security could be improved in Ghana through innovative use of ICT in agriculture.

Dr Baah said the Cocoa Health and Extension Division’s mission was to control the spread of cocoa swollen shoot virus disease (and other diseases), assist farmers to replant their treated and rehabilitated farms with improved cocoa varieties as well as provide backup extension services to meet the technical needs of cocoa farmers in Ghana.

He said The Ivory Coast was doing well in cocoa production because it had younger cocoa plants compared to Ghana, which had most of its cocoa plants over 30 years.

Mr Osei Owusu said in Ghana the ratio of extension officers to farmers was one is to 2,000.

He explained that due to the huge gap between the number of extension officers and farmers, there was the need to combine both e-extension and the traditional extension methods to cover a majority of them.

He said the traditional extension afforded both extension officers and the farmers to meet and interact.

The 68th Annual New Year School and Conference is on the theme: “Promoting National Development through Agriculture Modernisation: The Role of ICT”.

It is being organised by the School of Continuing and Distance Education, University of Ghana, under the auspices of MTN, Eximbank Ghana, Kosmos Innovation Centre and the Graphic Communications Group.

It is aimed at creating the forum for passionate discussions on how ICT could be integrated into agriculture to modernise the sector for sustainable national development.

Source: GNA

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