The ICT4BXW project is scaling various digital innovations for BXW diagnosis and prevention to increase banana production across all districts of Rwanda. Scaling is not a one-size fits all approach. It includes various aspects that help
to channel the intended message to a wide range of audience depending on the medium that reaches them effectively.
The project has been mainly focused on the development, testing, and dissemination of digital tools including BXW App, Remote Training, the chatbot that is being used by Farmer Promoters to educate farmers in their respective
villages, and to train them on how to effectively manage their banana plantation, furthermore fight against the BXW disease in their banana plantation.
On the other hand, 60% of farmers are not capable of accessing digital information due to various constraints mainly the internet and lack of digital tools at their hands such as phones. The project introduced non-digital materials, which are easily accessed by both Farmer Promoters and Farmers in various districts of Rwanda. Those materials include booklets, brochures, and posters that portray banana agronomic advice and how to prevent BXW in fields.
IITA and RAB developed and disseminated the analog materials across the country to scaling champions (Farmer Promoters), to help them deliver information on banana agronomy with visible and tangible examples as displayed on posters and booklets. Murekatete Claudine is a Famer Promoter in Muhanga district, Southern Province. She was trained on how to use booklet and poster information in order to diffuse banana agronomic information and BXW prevention and control measures to her fellow Farmer Promoter and farmers in her community.
“These materials will help me to prevent BXW and protect my banana farm. Furthermore, these materials will serve as fact check while delivering BXW control message to farmers, and we will place them at public centers, so that farmers can be able to access them and get all the information on banana agronomy and disease prevention, all the time.” Murekatete added.
Niyombaza Alfred, Farmer Promoter in Ruhango district, also received the materials. He commends them as an additional input for skill transfer to farmers.
“These materials will help us a lot. They will enable us to have a basis for training fellow farmers, by referring to them to provide factual information on BXW disease prevention and banana agronomy in general” said Niyombaza.
The project has so far donated smartphones to more than 209 Farmer Promoters from 2018 (69 smartphones during phase-I “2018-2020” and 140 smartphones during phase-II (2021-2023); remotely trained 134 Scaling Champions and 935 Scaling Enablers.
To date, more than 7,800 farmers have been registered and assisted in using BXW App, and more than 378,700 farmers accessed information on banana agronomy and BXW management.
The project is working with various partners including RAB, VIAMO, ARIFU and LinkingPin Africa to scale up information on banana agronomy and disease prevention for banana farmers across Rwanda.