Ethiopia in a new partnership to harness digital technology to improve advisory services for farmers and agriprenuers

In its initial phase, the project conducted rapid user research by engaging with Youth Agri-Entrepreneurs (YAEs) affiliated with FAO's DAIH in Ethiopia. Photo by FAO.

In acknowledging the power of digital technology in enhancing farming practices and empowering agricultural entrepreneurs, the Government of Ethiopia through the Ministry of Agriculture has partnered with the Global Network of Digital Agriculture Innovation Hubs (DAIH) Digital Green to improve advisory services and optimize the use of data and information for the benefit of farming communities and agriprenuers across the country.

This initiative aims to create an open knowledge-sharing architecture, facilitated by Digital Green’s innovative approach and powered by FarmStack, an open-source data and content-sharing network.

Recognized as a Digital Public Good by the Digital Public Goods Alliance (DPGA), FarmStack provides a collaborative platform for sharing content among stakeholders within the agrifood systems domain. Leveraging APIs, URLs, and CKAN integrations, FarmStack enables seamless access to, contribution to, and dissemination of digital open content.

Engaging the youth

In its initial phase, the project conducted rapid user research by engaging with Youth Agri-Entrepreneurs (YAEs) affiliated with FAO’s DAIH in Ethiopia. Through in-depth interviews and analysis, the research identified key user requirements, including content preferences, accessibility needs, and user experience considerations.

This foundational step ensured that the subsequent content development and delivery mechanisms were tailored to meet the specific needs of the target audience.

A cloud-hosted instance of FarmStack serves as a centralized repository for diverse content from expert sources such as FAO, the Ministry of Agriculture, and Mercy Corps’ Sprout platform. This content covers a wide range of topics, from gender-sensitive agronomic practices to farmer-to-farmer knowledge-sharing videos.

By aggregating and curating this content, FarmStack creates a comprehensive resource hub accessible via various digital channels, including the Ethiopian government’s public extension system.

Training for the users

As part of the project’s capacity-building efforts, training sessions were held to familiarize users with the FarmStack platform and its integrated Telegram-based advisory chatbot. These sessions equipped Youth Agri-Entrepreneurs (YAEs) and partners with the necessary skills to access, contribute, and engage with digital content effectively.

The chatbot, serving as an on-demand advisory tool, proved particularly valuable by addressing queries related to pest and disease management, beekeeping best practices, and entrepreneurship development.

The successful deployment of the FarmStack network and its integration with the Telegram chatbot exemplifies a scalable approach to delivering digital public goods (DPGs) through collaborative partnerships.

Transformative power of digital innovation

This initiative showcases the transformative power of digital innovation in improving small-scale farming practices and fostering sustainable agricultural development through easy access to agricultural advisory services and strategic use of digital infrastructure.

As the FarmStack instance transitions to the Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture’s Extension Directorate, supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, it represents a significant milestone in building resilient and inclusive digital agricultural ecosystems.

Looking ahead, initiatives like these hold the promise of unlocking agricultural innovation and driving socio-economic progress for farming communities across Ethiopia and beyond.