The Feed the Future Developing Local Extension Capacity (DLEC) project and the Sustainable Opportunities for Increasing Livelihoods with Soils (SOILS) Consortium undertook a study to analyze the digital agricultural extension and advisory services (EAS) in Niger. The study provides data, insights, and recommendations on digital EAS platforms and services to support the SOILS Consortium in the development of a technology park in Niger. The technology park will function as an agricultural information and training center to accelerate dissemination and scaling efforts and provide training to farmers and other agricultural value chain actors. 

The analysis of the digital agricultural EAS in Niger uses the framework developed by Heike Baumüller and Benjamin K. Addom, which uses four pillars to explain digitalization for agriculture: (1) digital agricultural innovations, (2) big data and analytics, (3) business development services, and (4) the enabling environment. 

The study concludes: 

  1. The limited ability of extension agents to reach farmers, compounded by the restrictions on mass gatherings due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the limited coordination and collaboration among EAS providers, have reduced the potential benefits of traditional EAS in Niger. 
  2. Digital EAS could be a game changer for smallholder farmers and other actors to access quality EAS from the comfort of their homes or workplaces. 
  3. Niger has a limited but gradually advancing enabling environment and agricultural data infrastructure to support digital agriculture. There are quality digital platforms which are accessible and effective in providing or supporting quality EAS that largely meet the needs of farmers and other actors across the country. 
  4. Digital agricultural extension activities appear to be driven by donors and international development partners which do not guarantee the sustainability of the digital EAS platforms. 

The study recommends: 

  1. There should be active coordination of EAS providers to avoid duplication, enhance synergy and complementarity necessary to serve the diversified needs of farmers. 
  2. There should be continuous capacity building to facilitators and moderators, as well as farmers, due to the low digital literacy in Niger. 
  3. Development of a national farmer digital identity database should be a priority of the state and relevant private actors, using the databases of the National Network of Chambers of Agriculture (RECA), peasant organizations, and other organizations as a starting point. 
  4. The National Agricultural Advisory System (SNCA) should take a lead in exploring sustainable and innovative financing mechanisms for agricultural extension that minimize the dependence on donor funding. 

Read and/or download the full study here

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