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Mobile phone intervention for mushroom cultivation: Ruhuna University partners Mobitel

The Ruhuna University offers an agricultural extension program that hopes to reach out to all mushroom farmers across the country. The program's vision is to not only educate mushroom cultivators, but also to increase and ensure targeted families receive sustainable means of livelihood, enabling community economic development in a bid to transform the lives of many Sri Lankans.

Since the inception of the agricultural program for mushroom farmers in 2008, the initiative has gained widespread publicity for its extension of activities that include demonstrations, training programs and field visits. Apart from the university's academic proficiency, venturing into development on a national level was initiated by the effort of a research team providing technical insight to the study. The new platform introduced for agricultural extension will prop up the dissemination of knowledge through mobile phones.

Mobitel partnered the Ruhuna University on this occasion to launch an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) System for mushroom farmers (L3F).

Mobitel will provide the platform for the Agricultural Extension Program in the form of an IVR with knowledge content provided by the Ruhuna University Agriculture Faculty Agricultural Economics Department.

The IVR will host a 1- 2 minute voice recording on mushroom cultivation from Monday to Friday. Registered farmers and any Mobitel customer is entitled to listen to the message and a session of multiple choice questions related to the study. The Agricultural Extension Program will span over a period of 6 months and farmers will be educated on various methods of cultivating quality mushrooms, and presenting harvest in the market through value addition.

Program Coordinator Professor Mahinda Wijeratne said, "We are extremely happy to partner Mobitel on our Agriculture Extension Program.

We hope to extend our knowledge and reach on mushroom cultivation for all those who are keen on new and improved ways of harvesting through mobile intervention as mushroom production is labour and management intensive. Specialty mushrooms are not a 'get rich quick' enterprise. On the contrary, it takes a considerable amount of knowledge, research, planning, and capital investment to set up a production system."

Initially, the program was limited to the Kamburupitiya Mushroom Growers Society and with the intervention of mobile phones, expansion throughout the district remains key.

The farmers were notified through Vidatha centres, storing a database of those who cultivate mushrooms. The first 100 farmers to enroll for the program will be able to engage in the Agricultural Extension Program free and at the end of the six month course all farmers will receive recognition from the Ruhuna University. "Once again we are delighted to extend our reach for the greater development of society.

The program will open farmers to knowledge input on mushroom production. Research and extension presently remains low in Sri Lanka, and this is one example of breaking traditional boundaries to transit from traditional to contemporary methods of learning," said Life Long Learning for Farmers' Project Country Coordinator Professor Uma Comaraswami organized by the Commonwealth of Learning who attended the occasion as chief guest.

Courtesy: DailyNews

Posted on Wednesday, March 09, 2011 @ 02:06:45 LKT by

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