Lifelong learning for farmers in Seychelles in the offing


The initiative will help SAA to introduce this modern approach to share agricultural technologies and information to all agricultural producers in Seychelles. SAA has benefitted from this programme because for the past five years COL had focused a lot on the development of ODL in the agricultural sector, to facilitate learning for development and to empower rural communities whereby gender issue is very sensitive.  

The project aims to help the SAA to introduce mobile based agricultural extension by the use of mobile phones, to strengthen the learning process between extension officers and other partners of the agricultural sector.

The new approach will boost the rate at which data and information are shared with farmers as well as in delivering more professional services to farmers and other partners, backyard gardeners, students, ornamental plant growers, training institutions etc. It will also empower agricultural extension officers and other SAA staff in helping farmers to take ownership of their own development.

The first phase of the project started right after a four-day (April 2-5, 2013) training - ODL Mobile Learning Development -- which was held at the International Conference Centre of Seychelles (ICCS). The participants of the workshop included heads and staff of SAA as well as representatives of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Industry. At the end of the training an action plan was produced.

Among the recommended activities of the action plan, The L3F Steering Committee and L3F Implementation Committee were set up in May 2013. The L3F Steering Committee consists of heads from each sections of SAA and other partners in the agricultural sector namely; representatives of the Seychelles Agricultural and Horticultural Training Centre (SAHTC), Seychelles Farmers Association (SeyFa) and Val d’Andorre Farmers’ Association. 

The main purpose of the L3F Steering Group Committee is to oversee the project and ensure that it is well managed to achieve its objectives. On the other hand the L3F Implementation Committee comprises one officer from all the sections within SAA, as well as a project manager and a quality assurance manager who are also from SAA. The role of the quality assurance manager will be to validate the content of SMS and voice messages which will be sent to farmers and others.

SAA is working very closely with Airtel Ltd Seychelles as the local mobile phone service provider to facilitate the realisation of the project. This is because Airtel had successfully set up the same system in India in 2004 which is still up and running and improving the livelihood of farmers there.

Airtel has already allocated the short code number of 9676 on to which farmer will send and receive SMS from SAA. However the number is not operational at the moment. It is expected that the number and all the technicalities will be ready for the pilot study in October 2013.

Also, there will be a continuation of the first training which took place earlier this year, again sponsored by COL, in July 2013 to speed up the process.

The project will be launched with a pilot study which will include a group of around 50 farmers from Mahé, Praslin and La Digue. This is expected to coincide with World Food Day on October 16, 2013.

The purpose of the preliminary study is to ensure that the methods used are sound, as well as to work out all difficulties before launching the project on the larger scale.

The full scale project is expected to start in about three months or more after the launching of the preliminary study.
Meanwhile the SAA took the opportunity during the National Day Show from June 16-18 to advertise and raise awareness on the project.

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