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Tuesday 2 September  
Myke Gbe, a farmer in Benue State, uses two cell phones and a tablet computer
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Makurdi, Nigeria
Makurdi, Nigeria

What a cell phone can do for a Nigerian farmer: osprey

Published on : 19 February 2013 - 6:00am | By RNW Africa Desk (Photo: King James Yiye)
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Millions of mobiles

Will cell phones “rebuild the broken walls of Nigeria’s agriculture and unlock wealth and opportunities”? That's the hope of Agriculture Minister Akinwunmi Adesina, who supports a project to arm farmers with mobile devices that can help create a centralized farmers database and a platform for knowledge-sharing.

Last month initial media reports said 10 million cell phones, estimated to cost 60 billion naira (about 75 million euro), would be purchased by the Nigerian government. A 26 January article by Vanguard softened the controversial statement, stating that Minister Adesina said the government would "distribute only two million phones to farmers this year".

According to a 7 February article by This Day Live, the minister said that 71 percent of 426,000 sampled farmers across 13 states did not have cell phones and that "many...in rural areas are quite poor and are excluded from the benefits of the mobile phone revolution going on in Nigeria".

 

RNW recently paid a visit to Myke Gbe, a farmer whose upped use of mobile technology brings him more clients, more information and the occasional unexpected visitor. Here's the second half of our two-part story (read part 1 here).

By King James Yiye, Makurdi

Amidst the quail, geese and ducks that normally reside on this farm in Benue State, another winged creature is visiting. Farmer Myke says it would have ended up “in a big black pot for Christmas” if he hadn't intervened. And if weren't for his Nokia E72 cell phone and Samsung Galaxy tablet computer, he might not have learned in time that the visitor was an osprey, which only eats fish.

“It was on a Sunday morning, the 23rd of December,” Farmer Myke recalls. “I was here on my farm and my mechanic called me… He saw some people with a bird, trying to sell it… It had a ring on it. Once I heard the word 'ring', I drove straight to the place.”

The ring reads 'RETOUR Museum ZOOL Helsinki Finland, M-61683'
The ring reads 'RETOUR Museum ZOOL Helsinki Finland, M-61683'
“That word ‘ring’ attracted me,” he says, referring to the coded aluminium tag that indicated the bird was being tracked by researchers. “Some peasants were making a show of a catch," he explains, "and there was frenzy of haggling about the price." 

As it soon became clear, the auction item was an osprey, also known as a fish eagle. The bird was sick. It was being offered for 5,000 naira (about 30 US dollars). Straightaway Farmer Myke offered 6,000 naira, bringing the bidding to a close.

Making contact
On the farm, the bird is kept in a cage. The ring, around its right foot, has an inscription reading: 'RETOUR Museum ZOOL Helsinki Finland, M-61683'.

“It hasn't started feeding itself – we feed it – but it came here very weak and almost dying,” Farmer Myke points out. “Yan a tsenda a tsenda ambi,” he adds, referring to the bird’s watery faeces.

But thanks to his mobile devices, he could find helpful information online. “I browsed [the internet] immediately and found out from the Embassy of Finland that it feeds exclusively on fish. Luckily, there’s a fish farm here,” he says. The embassy, in turn, put him in touch with the responsible ringing centre, located at the Finnish Museum of Natural History, which is affiliated with the University of Helsinki.

“They also asked me to make contact with the Nigeria Conservation Centre in Maiduguri,” he explains. “They've shown interest that I should help them...they will expect me to release it when it's fully recovered.”

New heights

The osprey from Finland that Farmer Mike is nursing
The osprey from Finland that Farmer Mike is nursing
Farmer Myke plans to let the osprey go as soon as it can feed on its own.

“I thank God I have been able to revive the bird,” he says. “It was almost dying, now you can see it is alive. It couldn’t stand on its feet. Now it is walking around in the cage and...you can even see right now it’s attempting to escape...that means it is recovering.”

There’s no doubt: the cell phone has been a springboard, taking Farmer Myke to heights fellow farmers may not reach for years. In this case, handheld technology may also be responsible for letting an osprey soar on its intended mission.

Read part 1 of this story here.

Discussion

Anonymous 22 October 2013 - 9:24am / Nigeria

If you are in need of quail eggs in any part of lagos,kindly contact me on fareedibrahim26@gmail.com or07017673860,08073460582. You can check the uses of quail eggs on the internet.It cures different kinds of ailment and also very nutritious.Send your orders now

Leo Kuku 27 February 2013 - 3:56pm / Nigeria

This is very encouraging indeed. Popular wisdom suggests that you sell such for much needed cash in this part of the world or use for a very nice meal. Sacrificing all these for the greater good is almost unheard of in these parts. Well done Mr. Mike

Boniface Koshi 27 February 2013 - 11:53am / Nigeria

Thanks to mr Myke for taking agriculture to yet another height, a cell phone is very important to a farmer, its one portable device one could use to access the internet which is very useful to a farmer as he needs to download materials to help his progress in the farm.

Ayila Thompson 27 February 2013 - 11:49am / Nigeria

I knew we will get there, a point when one could log on to the net and see useful materials on health and the rest sectors authored by our own fellow Nigerian. Ahead Ahead Mr Myke.

Tony Koshi 27 February 2013 - 11:45am / Nigeria

Its a wonderful move by Mr Myke and his farm, we look forward to an expansion on the farm to include training of farmers. I very much interested.

Leo Kuku 27 February 2013 - 11:42am / Nigeria

I knew Zukutiv farms were capable of doing such a thing, judging on the nature of managers and their level of exposure. We look forward for more.

Tardoo Kuku 21 February 2013 - 12:16pm / Nigeria

Its so unique of a Nigeria, sorry if you get it all wrong but to spend his cash to survive an ordinary bird that would as well served him a good delicacy. Anyway, its not all that are the same...I drop my cap for Mr. Gbe!!

Dr Jocelyn 20 February 2013 - 8:57pm / Nigeria

This is both a wake-up, as well as a clarion call to policy makers in Nigeria to see the wood for the trees and act accordingly. We live in a fast-paced world and so the importance and use of mobile technology in our daily lives (including farming) cannot be over-emphasized. Mr Mike, more power to your elbows & I pray we all learn from illustrations as these.

Myke Gbe 20 February 2013 - 11:18pm / Nigeria

Hi Doc,
If I ever think of quitting, I may only need to remember your kind wishes and gingering words.
Warm regards.

Myke Gbe 20 February 2013 - 3:42pm / Nigeria

Ever since the first part of this interview which RNW published on 12th of Feb., 2013, I have been contacted by numerous readers from many parts of the globe.
This means many quail business prospects for me.I feel quite elated!
I can only say a big, big THANK YOU to the entire RNW team and insist that the cell-phone magic is ALIVE and Nigerian farmers must device means and ways of harvesting from it.

King James Yiye 20 February 2013 - 5:48pm / Nigeria

Many thanks Farmer Myke, I like the use of 'harvesting from it' here, that's a farmer's craetive language.

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