Science, Technology and Innovation

Digital education for women’s empowerment

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Salwa Nuseir, poultry farmer, Damas village Dakahlia Governorate, Egypt, benefitted greatly from attending the digital skills course organized by Nevin Talaat, the manager of the agricultural extension centre in Damas – 7 August 2022. ©Ahmed El Shimy


Women are key

Women are a key to the transformation of agrifood systems worldwide and to realizing the aspirations set out in the Sustainable Development Goals. Unfortunately, the contributions made by women to agriculture are frequently overlooked and women often miss out on educational opportunities. This is particularly the case for modern digital technologies, which are a growing feature of agrifood systems globally.

A digital skills course for extension agents was organized by the Egyptian Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation and FAO. The course had its origins in FAO’s Digital Village Initiative. The content of the course covered instruction on a range of modern information and communication technologies.

Left: Salwa Nuseir, farmer, receiving a certificate for completion of the training course at MOA extension centre of Damas village, Dakahlia Governorate, Egypt, March 2022. Right: Nevin Talaat, extension agent (Nevin is on the right), calling for trainees to receive their completion certificates, March 2022. ©Safaa Sabry

Trainer and trainee tell their stories

Nevin Talaat, the manager of the agricultural extension centre in Damas, a village in the Egyptian Delta, attended the course and thought that it would suit other women in Damas. In her own words, “I held a strong belief in the importance of digital skills, digital sources and the role of agricultural extension in changing society for the better.” Nevin, a graduate of the University of Alexandria, explained that “I started the digital skills course with the introduction of a digital tools package, including Word, YouTube, e-mail, Facebook, WhatsApp, Zoom and the FAO app El Mufeed, which the participants liked due to the abundance of diversified advisory content.”

The FAO mobile application El Mufeed, launched in 2019, was designed using a participatory approach, to provide daily agricultural information for all farming family members, including information on food safety. It has four thematic sections: healthy nutrition, citrus production, household poultry production, and date palm management. The app provides recommendations to improve product quality and increase productivity and contains guidelines for raising, feeding and managing diseases of chickens and ducks. The advisory content of the app is provided as texts, audio recordings and videos.

Salwa Nuseir, a poultry farmer from Damas village, benefitted greatly from attending the course organized by Nevin. She was facing a difficult situation, with many of her chickens dying due to inadequate management. She said, “I was lacking adequate experience and was relying only on inherited experience. I was in dire need of sound guidelines for poultry farming because inherited information is incomplete and difficult to rely on to conduct this activity in a profitable manner.” She said, “The increase in income did not only result because of what I have learnt and applied from the El Mufeed app, but also because of digital marketing.” A consequence of the course was that her adult son Sayed used Facebook to market the family’s chickens, goats and pigeons, enabling direct sales to customers. This resulted in increased family income. Salwa went on to say that Nevin “Introduced several digital tools and spent a long time introducing the contents of El Mufeed, especially the themes of household poultry production and healthy nutrition. I learned so many things about raising poultry, such as proper nutrition, provision of good ventilation through windows that open upwards, and temperature management.”

Initially, it was not easy to recruit and retain women farmers, but the hard work of Nevin, with the full support of her husband, paid off and she successfully “Persuaded the women to continue with the course and meet the challenge.” She added that the women “Learned how to navigate through all themes of the applications, where they toured educational videos, audio recordings and the interactive platform of the Farmers Forum.”

Salwa is very happy and said, “I feel comfortable now as I obtained the necessary information for raising chickens on a scientific basis and there are no traders who control me and drive me to sell my chickens at an unfair price. Digital marketing is connecting me and my son directly with consumers, which allows us to sell at a profitable price. These factors, and the increase in income and profit, will encourage me to continue raising chickens as I have the necessary knowledge for producing a good quality product and as my son started to sell our products using an innovative and profitable marketing style.”

Nevin Talaat (Nevin is at the front on the right) during a five-day training course on digital skills for extension agents. The course took place from 9 to 13 January 2022. ©FAO/Adel Zekaizak

An example to build on

This heartening example of two women, a trainer and a trainee, demonstrates that digital education for women agriculturalists is important if agrifood systems are to be successfully transformed. The digital skills course held in Egypt represents an example that can be built on and adapted for many different circumstances, where it can contribute to better production and a better life for women and their families.

This story is also available in Arabic.

Related links

Dowload the FAO mobile application El Mufeed

Video: Digital application of Food safety in response to COVID-19 and beyond

Video: How FAO digital tools are helping Egyptian farmers improve their livelihoods