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How Nigerian women can use AI in agriculture despite limited education

By George George Idowu

The advent of artificial intelligence (AI) in agriculture offers transformative potential, particularly for Nigerian women, who form a substantial part of the agricultural workforce. However, the challenge remains that many of these women have limited formal education and digital literacy.

Overcoming this barrier requires a strategic approach to making AI accessible and beneficial to them. Below are some of the ways Nigerian women can use AI in agriculture.

AI technologies can be designed to be intuitive and user-friendly. Tools that rely on visual and voice-based interfaces rather than text can be particularly effective.

For instance, AI-driven voice assistants can provide real-time farming advice in local languages. These assistants can answer weather forecasts, planting times, pest control, and more queries.

Mobile applications are another visible way for images and icons to guide users through processes. For instance, apps that diagnose plant diseases using photos taken by the user can be beneficial.

Community-based training programs are also vital approaches to building digital literacy. These programs can include demonstration farms: Establishing AI-powered demonstration farms where women can see the benefits of AI technologies firsthand. Practical, hands-on training sessions can demystify the technology. Local Facilitators: Training local women already trusted within their communities to act as facilitators and educators can help spread knowledge more effectively.

Similarly, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and government agencies can help bridge the gap by:

Providing Subsidies and Grants: Financial support can make AI tools more affordable. Subsidies for purchasing smartphones or AI-enabled devices can be crucial. Creating Awareness Campaigns: Informing women farmers about the benefits and availability of AI tools through local media, community meetings, and agricultural extension services.

AI solutions must be tailored to Nigerian women farmers’ specific needs and contexts. This includes:

Local Language Support: Ensuring AI tools are available in local languages and dialects. Context-Specific Solutions: Developing AI applications that address specific local agricultural challenges, such as soil fertility issues or crop varieties.

While smartphone penetration is increasing, many women farmers may still use basic mobile phones.

AI solutions can leverage this existing infrastructure by using SMS-based systems, which provide AI-driven advice and alerts via SMS in local languages. This method does not require internet access or smartphones. USSD Codes: Utilising Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) codes for accessing information and services without needing an internet connection.

Creating an ecosystem that supports the use of AI in agriculture involves microfinance and credit access, which offers microloans and credit specifically for purchasing AI tools and technologies.

Insurance Products: Developing crop insurance products that use AI for risk assessment, making it easier for women farmers to access insurance.

While the challenge of limited education among Nigerian women farmers is significant, it is manageable. By designing simple, intuitive, and local AI tools and providing community-based training and support, Nigerian women can effectively leverage AI to enhance their agricultural productivity and livelihoods.

Thus, collaboration efforts from technology developers, NGOs, government agencies, and the private sector are essential to realise this vision. Through such concerted efforts, AI can become a powerful tool for empowerment and sustainable development in Nigerian agriculture.


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