The Sri Lanka Department of Export Agriculture (DOEA) sponsored two campaigns in the Kurunegala district, with ginger farmers in the north area and pepper farmers in the south area. Both campaigns were intended to improve the efficiency and timeliness of communication between DOEA extension officers and local farmers.
Both campaigns used text messaging and both showed that there was interest from farmers in this form of communication, despite challenges with using text messaging on their phones. Many of the older generation farmers said they needed help to use text messaging but found the information useful. They asked for a voice-based system to complement the SMS system. Extension officers indicated that the text messaging system had saved them time and effort when trying to communicate news and updates to their communities. The DOEA north tech steward was particularly active with the campaign.
DOEA has expressed interest in continuing its use of text messaging and expanding into a voice based system with Freedom Fone. We are also in discussion with the department about the possibility of working with Wayamba University of Sri Lanka to expand the number of campaigns and extend them into other regions of the country.