L3F has put capacity-building of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) at the centre of its strategic support to the agricultural sector in Jamaica. More than 30 officers have been trained in online instructional design and ICT-based extension to improve RADA’s capacity to run large scale ICT-enabled farmer extension programmes. In 2017, RADA facilitated the skills development of over 700 farmers in Irish potato production, value addition and marketing.
Phone-based text messaging has been employed to enable farmers to gain deeper understanding of good crop production practices, planting cycle, pest and disease management, and agricultural emergencies. In addition, the farmers have acquired entrepreneurial skills to run effective enterprises that would enhance their livelihoods. The learners have also been linked with key stakeholders in the agri-business industry such as marketing agencies and financial institutions. These linkages have enabled most of the L3F participants to engage in enterprise-based farming.
Aptus, COL’s innovation for learning in unconnected settings, has been deployed by RADA as a complementary teaching tool in areas where the internet is unreliable. Starting with 25 farmers in the pilot phase, Aptus is now being used to reach over 100 learners. Commenting on appropriateness of the Aptus, Mrs Roslyn Jackson-Richards, Director of Corporate Planning, Monitoring & Evaluation at RADA said: “RADA as an entity is particularly captivated by the potential of this device in being so impactful yet cost effective. As the main engine of economic growth in rural communities, RADA will require additional devices to enable us to reach hundreds of other unreached farmers.”