80 per cent of the extension workers tried to use the devices to support their extension service delivery to varying degrees.
Photo: ILRI/ Z. Sewunet


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Especially in remote rural areas, using information and communication tools in agricultural extension makes sense. The International Livestock Research Institute in Ethiopia has tested e-book readers with regard to their practicality.

Agricultural extension workers in Ethiopia have only limited access to relevant and timely information to give better advisory services to smallholder producers/farmers. Accessing information may require long travels and communication with many colleagues and friends. Mengistu, a livestock expert in Arbegona district office of agriculture in Southern Ethiopia, says he had to travel to a bigger city like Awassa or wait for weeks or months to get a copy of a manual on dairy production or other information materials. Thus staying up-to-date with required information and knowledge can result in high transaction costs for Mengistu and his colleagues.

One way to build knowledge and capacity of extension workers is through providing relevant and timely information that is easily accessible from their work locations via Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). The Livestock and Irrigation Value Chains for Ethiopian Smallholders (LIVES) Project, which is being implemented by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Ethiopia, piloted the use of e-book readers by extension workers in its intervention sites.

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