The Potential of Mobile Phones in Transforming Health, Education and Agriculture in Liberia

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Digital technology is transforming the world, and Liberia can use this technology for tremendous purposes of wellbeing in almost all the sectors that drive the Liberian Economy. Out of some of the highly advanced digital technologies, mobile phone can present HealthCare, education and agriculture sectors in Liberia with unprecedented opportunities to run their operations and provide the chance for Liberia to leap ahead in a way that was unimaginable just a few years ago. Here, we will look at the way mobile phone can be a key transforming agent in the future of HealthCare, Education and Agriculture in Liberia. This article is the second of a three part series detailing how the mobile phone can be a key transforming agent in the future of HealthCare, Education and Agriculture in Liberia. In this article we will discuss how the mobile phone can transform Agriculture in Liberia.

It is vital that agriculture in the Liberia be transformed from a subsistence activity to a profitable and sustainable business. To achieve this, it is important to reach out to every farmer especially smallholder farmers to improve their farming methods and ultimately transform the agriculture sector in the country.

Mobile phones can play a vital role in transforming agriculture in Liberia by providing accurate and timely advice and information to Liberian farmers, assisting small farmers to increase their productivity and access different markets. Considering that the majority of people in Liberia now have access to mobile phones, there is a great deal of potential for reaching small and marginal farmers in Liberia.

Spreading agricultural-related information through mobile phones is a faster and cheaper way of helping farmers maximizes produce. There is no doubt that most farmers in Liberia lack knowledge on the best models of preparing their fields. This scenario can be changed if farmers get messages, in their mobile phones, on the best practices they can apply in their fields for maximum productivity.

At present, a majority of farmers in Liberia depend heavily on word of mouth to get information about market prices, weather information. As a result, many times, farmers receive false information, which has negative impact on their agricultural produce. This is where mobile phones can prove beneficial. For instance, apart from providing useful agricultural information, through mobile phones, Liberian farmers can also be educated about the prevailing market prices, product processing, weather information and other relevant information, which may have a direct or indirect impact on the agricultural produce of the farmers.

Another major challenge of Liberian farmers is lack of access to basic financial services such as bank accounts or insurance. This ultimately makes it difficult for them to build secure loans.  With the help of mobile phones, it can become easier to send money to farmers, which they can use to improve their farming methods. Services such as m-Pesa can prove effective in reaching out to low-income farmers in Liberia with integrating financial services to boost their harvests.

In addition to providing market information, mobile phones can also help farmers to increase their profits. In Kenya, numerous mobile apps and cell phone-based programs have helped small-scale Kenyan farmers increase their agricultural skills and produce. For instance, in Kenya, many farmers have been able to increase their profits with the help of a mobile app called M-Farm. The mobile app allows Kenyan farmers to group together and sell their produce in bulk to exporters and big retailers.

By providing useful information to farmers and farming cooperatives, mobile phones can bridge the gaps which currently exist in the Liberian agricultural sector. It can change the entire agricultural value chain as it will help connect the government, the farmers and users of agri-commodities. With an increased use of mobile phones among Liberian farmers, it can become easier to provide agricultural information, increase crop yields and achieve self-sufficiency in food.

The future of Liberia is promising; however, that future can only be achieved if the government of Liberia can ensure that these three key sectors are developed. The use of mobile technology to disseminate information in health, agriculture and education could help transform the Liberian economic system, help solve the problems that exist in each sector and drive economic growth and contribute to job creation.

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