Evaluation Brief: The New Alliance Information and Communication Technologies Agriculture Extension Challenge Fund

The New Alliance ICT Extension Challenge Fund is a multi-donor fund managed by USAID, that receives financial support from USAID, UK DFID, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and IFAD to improve agricultural productivity among targeted food crops by smallholder farmers in 6 selected countries in Africa, through the use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) applied to agricultural extension services.

The NA-ICT Challenge Fund was established to help improve agricultural productivity in selected food crops by smallholder farmers in six countries: Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique, Senegal and Tanzania. The fund promotes use of ICT-enabled channels, delivered by the public and private sectors. Farm Radio International was part of 4 consortiums working on projects across Tanzania, Ghana, Ethiopia and Mozambique in this initiative.

Findings:

  • Actual outcome exceeded the intended outcome: 1.3 million farmers applied new knowledge and practices.
  • Considering existing cultural and social gender constraints, application of technologies and best practices by women in comparison to men was evaluated to be ‘good’ in four of the countries.
  • While radio was the least expensive ICT-enabled extension channel, the evaluation found that, first, video, and then extension messages to mobile phones were the most effective in increasing application rates.
  • ICT-enabled channels can complement and reinforce each other, and work best when combined with traditional extension, such as demonstrations and field days.

The evaluation was funded by DFID and conducted by Landell Mills Ltd between September 2017 and February 2019.
The evaluation team consisted of Rachel Percy (Team Leader), Martine Koopman and David Toomey, with support from
Eunica Aure, Bezabih Emana, Elisabetta Demartis, Diletta Carmi, Ellie McGovern and Valerie McDonnell-Lenoach