A vast potential exists for the use of ICTs in agricultural development and numerous applications are being developed for this purpose. ICTs can be used to carry out soil tests; to apply fertiliser; to receive extension advice and weather forecasts; to monitor pests and diseases; to make marketing decisions; to decide when to harvest; to weigh produce in the field; to send and receive payments, including credit; to monitor produce during transportation and storage; to improve transport, wholesale and retail logistics; and to generally upgrade management efficiency.
During recent focus group discussions (FGD) conducted for representatives of youth groups in northern and southern Ghana under the theme: Ghana’s Youth and the use of ICTs in Agriculture, critical issues were discussed and advocated for inclusion into the Youth in Agriculture, and Gender in Agriculture Policies of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture. The issues included the problem of limited ICT infrastructure and illiteracy in rural communities, and how youth could be engaged in agriculture through ICTs.
The workshops were organised by Syecomp Ghana Ltd as part of activities under a grant activity: Improving Approaches to Mainstreaming Gender in Ghana’s Youth Policy and Youth in Agriculture Programme: Focus on Climate-Smart Agriculture and Market-Oriented Value Chains; and sponsored by the USAID|Ghana Feed the Future Agriculture Policy Support Project, which is being implemented by Chemonics International Inc. (USA).
The FGD focused on the need for Ghana’s technologically-savvy youth to identify constraints in Ghana’s Agricultural value chain and develop locally-relevant ICT solutions. It was noted that youth groups in Ghana are already successfully established for-profit companies in the area of agriculture that are youth-led. Some successful examples of youth-led companies in Ghana mentioned include geospatial mapping solutions by Syecomp Ghana Ltd; market price information by Esoko Ghana; agronomic information by Farmerline Ltd; and farm-to-market solutions by mFarms Ghana Ltd.
A representative of the International Centre for Soil Fertility and Agricultural Development (IFDC) noted that the increased use of mobile and remote sensing technology in farming can help to change the attitudes and perceptions of young people on agriculture. By applying ICTs in agriculture, rather than the unattractive stereotypes of traditional farming, the youth now view agriculture as an exciting and innovative industry. A representative of MoFA regional office in Tamale shared some opportunities for private-sector led solutions in developing viable e-extension and e-agriculture platforms that the youth can engage in. He further said that a collaborative approach between the public and private sector will provide long-term financing and viability to youth-managed ICT-for-Agriculture companies.
At both workshops, participants discussed extensively data gaps within public institutions and opportunities for the use of big data in agriculture. They also discussed the need for youth agribusiness entrepreneurs to develop applications for effective data capture, and to explore possibilities for partnership with large agribusiness players who might express interest in their data interpretation and forecasting models.
Generally, the participants noted that ICT is a unique and an attractive entry point for young men and women to be engaged in the agrifood system. There are identifiable constraints along the agricultural value chain, thus making it a smart entry point with innovative technology solutions and sustainable business models. Deliberations also focused on the need for improved policies from decision-makers that will nurture and develop better partnerships to strengthen the role of young men and women in ICT initiatives and improve the impact of ICTs in agriculture.
This is the 3rd in a 12-series blog articles to espouse the context of the Position Paper on effectively mainstreaming Youth in Agriculture in Ghana which is under development with support from USAID/Agricultural Policy Support Programme (USAID/APSP).
Author: Syecomp Ghana Ltd
Email the author: Projects@syecomp.com
The author’s views expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of the United States Agency for International Development or the United States Government.