agribusiness

THE ROAD TO 2030: ERADICATING POVERTY AND ACHIEVING SUSTAINABLE PRODUCTION AND CONSUMPTION .


adeI wrote this article for the 2016 International Youth Day and it was first published on Rural Reporter’s website

Mallam Audu works out of the agro shop smiling. He has just purchased all the input for this season’s planting and also got his 30 minutes advisory session from the agro dealer. Two thousand kilometers away, Mr Obi takes delivery of fresh tubers of yams; two bunches of plantain and a basket of tomatoes just 20 minutes after ordering from a mobile app.  The roads leading to Thai community are now well paved and the first textile factory is up and running with quality cotton supplied by farmers in the community. Aba is now home of quality textile with exports to the other regions of Africa. You might wonder, when did all these happen? The year is 2030.

Of course many will say, “These are just wishful thinking and dreams”. They are however very achievable. The role young people in Nigeria, and indeed Sub Sahara Africa, have to play to make all the above a reality cannot be over-emphasised. Little wonder then that this year’s International Youth Day focuses on three fundamental elements –eradicating poverty, achieving sustainable production and consumption by the year 2030. While a whole lot goes into achieving these, agriculture and agribusiness plays a major role. It is also one of the few sectors that can conveniently engage young people solving issues related to hunger, mal-nutrition, unemployment and ultimately food security.

THE ROAD TO 2030

Much is needed to achieve this goal it is however achievable. This article highlight 3 kick off steps needed to achieve this by 2030. It is important to note though that actions are required from now to make this reality To start with, an all inclusive stakeholder consultation is needed. This consultation will involve both public and private sector in agriculture, the farmers, youths and women, donor organizations ,research institutes, health care organization and other organizations or agency that play a role in the agriculture value chain to mention a few. The purpose of this consultation will be to have a holistic need assessment of what is needed to improve and transform agriculture. It will also be an avenue to priotize key focus areas and synergize across board on steps to take to achieve the set goal.

One of the fundamental outcomes expected from this consultation should be a clearly defined value chain transformation road map for each key commodities and agricultural services. A consultation usually ends with a long list of needs to be address and responsibilities to be shared. Due diligence needs to be done to this to ensure every one knows the role they have to play and in what areas of the sector.

It is on the basis of these that required increased investment need to be provided. The Feed Africa Report by the African Development Bank clearly stated that Africa requires US$315bn- US$400bn to realize the Sustainable Development Goals on poverty and ending hunger. It is thus imperative that consistent and purposeful effort be made to provide funding to transforming agriculture and it value chain. This should start with increased allocation of budget to agriculture and related sectors by the governments. It is also important that the government allows the private sector handle the job of running agribusiness while they focus on issues like regulation, health care, research, infrastructure to mention but a few.

Young people are dynamic and energetic. They are also not blinded to the challenges and pressures of the times we live in and as such might not be quickly drawn to engaging in agriculture as they believe that a white collar career in other sectors will provide a better life for them. Of course not every one will be in the agriculture sector. It is however important to note that more than ever before the sector needs intelligent, hardworking, smart and entrepreneurial young men and women to engage in the various aspect of the value chain. It is thus important that changing young people’s perception toward agriculture be given attention.

To succeed in this, a couple of things need to be done

  • Improving the lifestyle of existing smallholders to reflect success by helping them do agribusiness rather than just farming
  • Promoting the success of young people who are doing well in agribusiness
  • Parents and educational institutions promoting from an early age importance of growing ones food through backyard farming and school gardening
  • A joint collaboration by the public and private sector to fund scholarships to study agriculture and to provide grants and loans to young people with ideas in agriculture and agribusiness These kick off steps needs intentional efforts from all involved.

There is no folding of hands and waiting to be spoon fed. Youth, need to get involved in shaping the future they want for themselves. Join in policy discussion, partner with others in areas of interest in agriculture and agribusiness, be ready to learn and get trained if needs be. Display qualities of hard work, honesty and endurance to achieve set goals. If opportune to get funding please use wisely for intended purpose.

 

2030 is not far off from us. As a young person are you prepared to take needed steps to achieve these goals. We all should take sometime to think about this and see areas we can contribute. A little bit of effort will collectively yield good results. . – See more at: http://ruralreporters.com/the-road-to-2030-eradicating-poverty-and-achieving-sustainable-production-and-consumption/ | Rural Reporters

WHAT CAN AGRICULTURAL BIOTECHNOLOGY DO FOR A DEVELOPING ECONOMY?

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As a graduate of biotechnology and genetics I am poised to write to authorities in the agriculture sector, policy makers, sister and supporting Ministries departments and Agencies, opinion leaders, well spirited individuals, private sector and students to describe the usefulness and applications of this novel field of agricultural biotechnology and show how it can contribute to the agriculture sector as well as the economy of a developing country like Nigeria. I think these authorities will be interested to know the achievements of this field, the potential estimated market volume, the demand from agriculture and the role of Agricultural biotechnology in meeting this demand, and its impact on National development. Although some in-depth studies have been performed on this topic and literature documented, it is pertinent that I bring some salient features to light. Using information available from other findings, this write up is aimed at bringing the science of Agricultural biotechnology to the attention of busy stakeholders in the agriculture sector and other related sectors in the country and encourage them to understand the potentials that lie fallow in this novel science.

Briefly, agricultural biotechnology is the manipulation of Crops and Animals or their parts for the production of value added goods and services for man use.

APPLICATIONS/ ACHIEVEMENTS OF AGRICULTURAL BIOTECHNOLOGY

Ever since the dawn of time, man kind has been in constant practice  of agriculture as the most fundamental means to satisfy the basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter. This need therefore calls for a proper understanding of the underlying principles of agriculture so as to exploit them for maximum productivity. Thus this field has been subjected to series of reassessment of its practices and innovations not only to achieve its immediate benefits but to carter for the rapidly growing population.

In the early years of agriculture, from 10th century BC man started exploiting crops and livestock using informal and crude practices which involve the reliance on the biological methods of pest and weed control, shifting cultivation, bush fallowing etc. down to the formal era of inputs such as herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers, and to the classical breeding era of hybridization, evaluation, and selection. These practices though helpful had shortcomings in terms of inadequate food production to meet the demands of the growing population and destruction of the natural ecosystem and biodiversity. In the quest to carter for these shortcomings came the birth of the science I describe as the best of the epoch, a science with impetus for more agriculture research and that which has all the potentials to unlock the mechanisms of living machines “Recombinant genetics and biotechnology”

A few of its applications and achievements are discussed below;

 Insect resistant crops: These crops have been engineered to express a self-defense for insect pest so as to enhance productivity and reduce crop losses for e.g. Bt cotton (Bacillus thuringienesis). This cotton has DNA (genetic material) from the soil microbe Bacillus thuringienesis incorporated into its genome (Entire genetic make up) which enables it to express resistance for insect pest. This cotton was adopted by Indian farmers and it increased their average yield by 70% between 2001 and 2008 and half of this increase is attributed to the Bt cotton adopted by Indian farmers (James 2009), this also suggest why India is presently the highest exporter of cotton. A decrease in cotton boll insecticide use by 56% between 1998 and 2006, which is cost saving for 6million Indian farmers who grew Bt cotton in 2009 (James 2009). In 2009, 7million Chinese farmers also grew Bt cotton and yield was increased by 10% and insecticide use decreased by 60% (James 2009) other engineered insect resistant crops include Bt corn, rice, etc.

 Herbicide tolerant crops:  These are crops that have been engineered so that their growth and development is not significantly affected by herbicides used on the weeds growing around them. This will enhance crop yield, reduce wastage, reduce cost and as well help in maintaining biodiversity. Crops such as maize, wheat, sugar cane, rice, onions etc. have been genetically modified to express this trait.

 Protein enhanced sweet potatoes: Sweet potatoes is known for its carbohydrate rich content, recently scientist have developed a protein rich sweet potatoes by isolating a gene AmA1 rich in lysine from the amaranth plant and incorporating it into the genome of sweet potatoes and it is well expressed. This protein AmA1 is not known to be an allergen.

 Cheese Making: Because of the insufficiency in rennet production from animals, and other natural sources, rennet which is an enzyme which produces chymosin which curdles milk in cheese production is now been mass produced by isolating the gene for rennet production from animal stomach and insert them into certain bacteria, fungi to make them produce chymosin during fermentation. The genetically modified microorganism is killed after fermentation and chymosin is removed from the fermentation broth so that the fermentation produced chymosin does not contain any GM component or ingredient.

ESTIMATED MARKET VOLUME

Due to empirical facts that biotechnology products are safe to use, and the promise biotechnology holds to bring more innovation to agriculture; producing more food to meet the growing demand while maintaining the biodiversity. The market potential is estimated with respect to the growing population, availability and acceptability of products. Presently some biotechnology products have been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration and are on shelves, they experience a high demand and have not been reported to have any negative effect on consumers. It is anticipated that as more products receive approval of regulatory bodies and come into the market in the near future so, will the market demand increase, hence its volume. Recently Genetically Modified Salmon was approved in the US and is already being consumed by many people.

Why have some countries accepted GMO? Why the misconceptions? Is this technology truly beneficial and how? The next part of this article will tell us

Written by Opuah Abiekwen(abeikwen@yahoo.com) Graduate of Biotechnology and Genetics, University of Calabar

Youth Agripreneurs Project – Call for sponsors

 

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This blogpost originally appeared on the GFAR website

It is our firm belief that youth are pivotal for the future of agriculture and the world’s food security.

As such, we are committed to integrate, stimulate and mentor youth through any of our projects. In GCARD3, the Third Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development, we will take any opportunity to live up to that commitment.

We want to use the upcoming GCARD3 global event to pilot a number of innovative projects and approaches. One of these projects is “YAP”, the Youth Agripreneurs Project. “YAP” is a pilot project targeting young agricultural entrepreneurs (“agripreneurs”).

Within “YAP” we want to select ten young agripreneurs from all over the world, and provide a seed fund to facilitate the startup of their project. During one year, we want to mentor them within their project by linking the youth with seasoned researchers and practitioners and integrating them in the YPARD (Young Professionals for Agricultural Development) mentoring program. We also want to train them on new ways to advocate and network using innovative communication tools.

“YAP” is a pilot project, a proof of concept. If successful, we want to refine and expand the project, combining the seed funding and mentoring program, to give youth a chance to realize their projects, and to give them a platform to showcase their projects. It is our hope this will inspire other youth and prove that agriculture and all its value added services ARE a viable, respectable, profitable business and livelihood.

To fund the “YAP” project, we are looking for sponsors who will collectively contribute to the seed fund, for a total of US$75,000.
This will be used to fund US$5,000 to each of the 10 selected agripreneurs’ project. An additional US$2,500/person will be used for their participation at the GCARD3 global event (travel and accommodation) to kick-start their mentoring and training program.
There is NO administrative overhead in this entire project. All funds are directly allocated to the young agripreneurs.
Potential sponsors can be institutes, organizations, private donors or companies.

Here are the full details of the “YAP” project.

Interested? More information and expressions of interest can be sent to Fiona Chandler (GFAR Secretariat): f.chandler(at)fao.org
And… act fast! By Feb 15th we will evaluate if we have the needed funding quorum to launch the public appeal for youth project proposals!

Background:
CGIAR (the Global Agricultural Research Partnership) and GFAR (the Global Forum on Agricultural Research) co-organize the global event of GCARD3 (the Third Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development) in April 2016. This event will be held in Johannesburg, co-hosted by the Agricultural Research Council of South Africa.
In cooperation with YPARD (the Young Professionals for Agricultural Development), we aim to fully integrate youth in the whole GCARD3 process and to showcase their crucial role in the future of agriculture.

Picture courtesy Vivian Atako (CCAFS)

THOUGHT FOR FOOD CHALLENGE- An enabler for sustainable food security

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More than ever before the issue of food security is a priority for us all. Day in day out around the world researchers, scientists, policy makers and stakeholder from various sectors even outside the agriculture sphere are working hard to proffer sustainable solution to the issue of food security. They are in labs, workshops, meetings to conceptualize solution and map out way forward. Many of these ones are old and are doing these activities not just because of the 10 -30 years or less they have to live but because they are also concerned about what becomes of the future generation( young people like myself and the child unborn). They have a lingering question at heart

BY 2050 WHAT WILL THE OVER 9BILLON PEOPLE FEED ON?

Have you thought of this yourself? Have you got some ideas in your head on how things can be made better? Have you been discussing this with a group of friends a week or two back? Have you wondered about how you can contribute to this burning issue even though you are just a student? I HAVE GOODNEWS FOR YOU

For the past 2 years, young people, students from around the world have gathered to pitch ideas and solution to the issue of feeding the world in a sustainable and environmentally manner. They have met at what is known as the “Thought for Food” Summit. They meet here not to just pitch, they network, prize money is won and of course they party to their success. Watch this video that highlights last year’s event

This year will not be am exception as the THOUGHT FOR FOOD CHALLENGE is again open to student teams to sign up for this prestigious competition with over 10000 USD to be won. I personally have followed the #TFFChallenge for two years and I can tell you these three things

  • It is absolutely worth all the effort
  • I have not seen a team from West Africa or Nigeria qualified to the top ten teams that are able to pitch their ideas at the #TFFSummit.
  • This year provides an opportunity for teams of students in Nigeria and West Africa to show case their ideas and get the chance to pitch their idea

So what needs to be done?

The TFFChallenge allows for university students (Undergraduate-Phd) from all field of study to explore and generate sustainable ideas that can help feed the world. Take for example in 2014 the team FoPo Food Power from the Lund University Sweden came up with the idea to convert unsellable and almost expiring food into food powder with dozens of uses including space mission, humanitarian aids and lot more. The powder has a longer shelf life than fresh produce and preserves nutritional qualities, properties and taste. This team came out as runner up and went home with $5000.

I am absolutely certain that the teaming number of youth in universities in Nigeria can definitely come up with an idea worthwhile and the TFFChallenge gives you the place to showcase it.

Here is what is needed

  • Sign up on www.tffchallenge.com
  • Form your team of 3-5 students from different fields,
  • Begin the TFF Challenge and develop your Project.
  • All project development and submission is due by Dec 1 2015 as finalist will be announced on the 15th of December 2015.

We all have a role as young people to contribute to the kind of future we want for ourselves and the generation to come. And this competition is one avenue to do so.

Personally I encourage all Nigerian students who are innovative and have got great ideas to team up and sign up for the TFFChallenge.

For more guidance download the student info pack here

Opportunity! Masters Research Grants – Fish Trade Program in Africa

The shores of Shiroro dam in Niger State Nigeria is a fishery hub

The shores of Shiroro dam in Niger State Nigeria is a fishery hub

The WorldFish Center with the funding from the European Commission (EC) has joined efforts with AU-IBAR and NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency (NPCA), to implement a programme called “Improving Food Security and Reducing Poverty through Intra-regional Fish Trade in Sub-Saharan Africa” (also referred to as Fish Trade Program). The Fish Trade Program aims to improve food and nutritional security and reduce poverty in sub-Saharan Africa by enhancing the capacities of regional and pan-African organizations to support their member states to better integrate intra-regional fish trade into their development and food security policy agendas. The Program works within the four corridors in Africa (Western, Southern, Eastern and Central) aims to deliver on the following results:

  • Generate information on the structure, products and value of intra-regional fish trade in food security in Sub Saharan Africa and make it available to stakeholders.
  • Come up with a set of recommendations on policies, certification procedures, standards and regulations, and get them well embedded in national and regional fisheries, agricultural, trade and food security policy frameworks in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Enhance the capacities for trade amongst private sector associations, in particular of women fish processors and traders and aquaculture producers, to make better use of expanding trade opportunities through competitive small and medium scale enterprises; and
  • Facilitate adoption and implementation of appropriate policies, certification procedures, standards and regulations by key stakeholders participating in intra-regional trade in the four trade corridors.

This program focuses on four main African trade corridors, in Western, Southern, Eastern and Central Africa. It is focused in three main areas namely to:

  • Strengthen the evidence base for coherent policy development at national and regional levels,
  • Support the formulation and implementation of appropriate policies, standards and regulatory frameworks to promote intra-regional fish trade, and
  • Strengthen the capacity of private sector associations, in particular of women fish traders, to enhance the competitiveness of small- and medium-scale enterprises engaged in this trade.

The Program responds to the potential of Africa’s intra-regional fish trade in addressing the region’s food and nutrition insecurity, as well as poverty reduction through wealth creation which has been overlooked and neglected in national and regional policy. As a result, intra-regional fish trade has largely remained informal, with substantial volumes traded by artisanal and small – medium enterprises, mostly by women.

African Union and its Regional Economic Communities (RECs) have therefore prioritized strengthening of regional trade and have identified fish and fish products as key commodities for investment and policy support. This is evidenced in the African Union Policy Framework and Reform Strategy for Fisheries and Aquaculture document which clearly aims to “Promote responsible and equitable fish trade and marketing by significantly harnessing the benefits of Africa’s fisheries and aquaculture endowments through accelerated trade and marketing”.

Nature of Research Grant

This research grant forms part of the mentorship program which aims at building the capacities of the youth and young professionals in Africa through active engagement in the program implementation process. This is based on the assumption that there exists huge opportunity to generate volumes of data on fish trade in Africa, and the project offers opportunity to even generate more information which can be capitalized on to inform national and regional policies at the same time bring forth academic excellence to a number of individuals who can help in contributing to the development of Africa at large if their capacities are built.

Eligibility

It is expected that the candidates should be from AU Member states and should have completed their course work in any of the following Universities which are participating in the implementation of the Fish Trade project;

  1. University of Abidjan, Ivory Coast
  2. University of Dakar, Senegal
  3. University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
  4. University of Douala, Cameroun
  5. University of Ghana, Ghana
  6. University of Ibadan, Nigeria
  7. Lilongwe University of Agriculture & Natural Resources, Malawi
  8. National University of Rwanda Other Universities within the regions will also be considered but priority will be given to the Universities above

The students should be pursuing masters or have proven background in the following programs; Economics, Fisheries Economics, Agriculture Economics, International Trade and other related programs.

The candidate should be willing to undertake the study in the southern corridor and parts of eastern corridor, such as Rwanda at the minimum possible cost.

Selection Criteria

The selection of candidates shall be done through a rigorous exercise, consisting of independent reviewers. The basis of selection shall be made on academic merit obtained at Masters Coursework and evaluation of content of concept note.

How To Apply

The candidates must develop a five paged concept note together with their supervisors and must have an endorsement letter from their supervisors and should include the followingkey sections;

  • Indicate the country in which the study will be undertaken
  • indicate the university of study, degree program being undertaken and indicative courses so far studied under this program
  • Clearly indicate what they are going to do and how they are going to do it (proposed methodology)
  • Linkage of academic study to overall fish trade project
  • How their project will contribute towards achievement of their national developmental goals
  • How they are going to collect data and analyze their data to ensure that the work is publishable and have an academic tone
  • Expected Results
  • An indicative budget for the whole study and workplan

Candidates shall be requested to attach transcripts from their masters course work and a letter of consent from supervisory committee.

The applications shall be addressed to

NEPAD Regional Fish Node

Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources

Box 219

Lilongwe

Malawi

Email: fishnode@yahoo.com with copies to: lissubby@gmail.com ; ekaunda@yahoo.com ;

Cell numbers; +265999378275 and +265 999 510 796

To reach not later than 4th September 2015

Original Post Here

Sign Up ForThe August Agric-Tour To Songhai Farms

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“Travel while you are young and able. Don’t worry about the money, just make it work. Experience is far more valuable than money will ever be”

Are you a farmer or an intending agriculturist? Do you have a farm and desire to upscale it to meet the current dynamics of agribusiness? Here is an opportunity to learn from one of the best in Africa.

Hadur Travel and Tour a tourism company with over 10 years experience in showcasing to people the best in agricultural practice and business from all over the world invites you to register for her next 5-day agric-tour to the Songhai Centre (Farm) located in Porto-Novo, Republic of Benin. The tour will commence from 2nd August to 6th August 2015.

Songhai Centre is a leader in sustainable agriculture. The farm practices agriculture and agribusiness in an environmentally friendly manner with over 900 hectares of farm land across the Benin. It uses modern methods of farming with diversified production. Activities on the farm range from Crop Production, Livestock farming, fish farming, and Renewable energy, Agro processing and Marketing.

GETTING ON BOARD

Tour Date: 2-6 August 2014

Requirements and Registration:

1.Download the attached SONGHAI STUDY FORM
2. Fill and scan along with the data page of your international passport send to us or submit in person to our office.
3. Confirm your room choice and we will send you a revised quote with your areas of interest indicated on your form
4. Obtain your yellow card if you don’t have one
5. Pay your tour fee
6. Pack your bags and get ready for the travel and learning experience of a life time.
Deadline is 22nd July 2015
PRICE: Participants can choose from the following options

1. ₦70,000 3 people sharing in a dormitory room
2. ₦74,000 1 person in a room with fan
3. ₦98,500 1 person in a room with AC
4. N92,000 (Per head) in double room with TV no Internet and no hot water – COUPLES SPECIAL PRICE
5. N102,000 (Per head) VIP room with internet, TV, hot and cold water, fridge etc- COUPLES SPECIAL PRICE

Note that the fee covers return journey by executive air conditioned bus, accommodation is provided on the farm in the best single room with air condition.(VIP room for couple, single room with fan also available and cheaper double rooms for those who wish to share). For meals these 5 will be provided – dinner on arrival, 3 lunches & breakfast on departure at the European restaurant on the farm, trip to Cotonou for leisure.

PAYMENT MODE:

All payment should be made to the details below
Name: Hadur travel & tours limited
Acct no:1013482922
Bank: Zenith bank plc

For further details and inquiry call Text or call CEO on 08033134108 or Bukky on 08086762144, you will get response in no time.

Visit: http://www.smarttravelsuperfan.com/?p=745 for more information and testimonials from past participants

OFFICE ADDRESS

CEO Hadur travel and tours Ltd
Suite 22 Block B G/floor
Alausa Shopping Mall , Alausa,
Ikeja ,Lagos, Nigeria.
Phone : 234-8033134108,08099350378,
http://www.smarttravelsuperfan.com
http://www.facebook.com/hadurtravels

Five ways of engaging the youth in agriculture

BY Yared Mammo
Young peoples’ affinity with ICTs and their ability to innovate is the key to moving mAgriculture forward and attracting the youth to the agricultural sector in ACP countries.

mAgriculture, the use of mobile platforms and applications by agricultural smallholders, has been welcomed in developing countries since its introduction more than a decade ago. As the coverage of mobile networks increases in ACP countries, the discussion on introducing mobile applications in the agricultural sector has moved from ‘whether’ to ‘how’.

Mobile finance and value-added information services are an obvious and promising example of the many new mAgriculture initiatives. Indeed, mobile money has great transformative potential and could change entire economies in the ACP region if introduced broadly across sectors such as agriculture, commerce and health care.

The youth will play a major role in the further growth of mAgriculture as young people have a natural affinity with ICTs. Indeed, to a certain extent mAgriculture is banking on the youth to move it forward. But keeping young people, the next generation of farmers, involved in agriculture is an intricate problem and involves more than merely replacing old farmers with new. It is about rejuvenating smallholder agriculture as a whole, and accepting the youth as today’s partners and tomorrow’s development architects. Providing training and farm inputs is not enough to attract these young people to a career in agriculture. Rather, they should be supported with easy access to information and markets through the use of mobile technology.

Mobilizing the youth     

 
Many young farmers in developing countries are aware that agriculture can be a worthwhile business that could earn them a good livelihood. Still, many of them are leaving their families’ farms for an uncertain future in the city. ICTs are a way of changing this trend, according to Youth, ICTs and Agriculture, a report published in November 2013 by the non-profit foundation IICD (see box).

Efforts to improve ‘access to market information, production techniques, new technologies and financing opportunities’ are a start, but they should be complemented by seizing ‘the youth’s affinity for using ICTs, their capacity to innovate and their propensity for taking higher entrepreneurial risks’.
Another way of changing this trend it to change the perception of agriculture. In Ethiopia, for example, it has been more than half a century since agriculture was introduced as a topic of study at the university level. Yet students are still reluctant to join the agricultural sector.

Five areas of change    

Universities, governments and international partners must give smallholder farmers more recognition and support them by giving them better access to market information, developing tailored mobile applications and training farmers in their use. The youth will only be attracted to agriculture once smallholders tangibly improve their livelihoods and if policy makers, planners and professionals are the drivers of change. There are five main areas of focus.

  • First, the focus must shift away from the affordability and accessibility of mobile phones, networks and applications. The agricultural sector’s biggest problem is not a lack of resources. What it lacks, and what farmers need, are better ways of accessing markets to sell produce. And there are too few applications around that target farmers’ specific needs.
  • Second, a substantial part of the national budgets in African countries is spent on developing agricultural sectors, mostly by supplying farmers with improved seeds, fertilizers and information on how to use them. However, budgets are rarely allocated to the development of mobile applications that promote inclusive agricultural value chains.
  • Realistic budgets targeted at developing and rolling out mobile applications would transform smallholder agriculture by empowering farmers with knowledge related to their produce and putting them in better bargaining positions.
  • Third, even if smallholder farmers are given better seeds, fertilizers and other farm inputs, and even if they are given access to information on how to improve productivity, they can still only improve their livelihoods and contribute to global food security if they are able to sell their produce. Providing market information to farmers and securing their access to national and international markets should be a top priority in any mAgriculture government policy.
  • Fourth, farmers across the world have one thing in common: their information needs fluctuate according to the agricultural calendar, and according to global developments in agriculture. Understanding that these kinds of factors determine smallholders’ needs for knowledge and information is half the battle in developing mobile applications for agricultural information services. So to understand exactly how mAgriculture can work most effectively in given circumstances it is important to carefully analyse the information needs of all those in the agricultural value chain.
  • Take India, for example. For the past 30 years, the focus there has been on increasing farm productivity. Today, India’s agriculture has entered a post-green revolution stage and farmers’ demands for agricultural information have been changing and diversifying. Their main concern has shifted from higher farm production to higher and better returns on their investments. As a result, their interest has moved from technical information to market prices and information that could add value to their produce.
  • And fifth, resources need to be pooled so people can experiment with new support structures and different forms of partnership, such as public–private, public–private–NGO and private–private at the local, national, regional and international levels. For example, value-added applications can be developed by private individuals, students, university researchers, NGO staff and software solution firms.
  • These developers need to team up with traditional government services, such as extension services, marketing boards and the telecom companies, all of which have the capacity to scale-up the use of mobile applications, in particular in remote rural areas. These kinds of partnerships will ensure that we get the best of both worlds.

ICTs and young farmers in western Kenya   

Youth, ICTs and Agriculture based its findings on research in western Kenya. It examined how the use of ICTs in farming there affected the interest of youth in agriculture. The farmers interviewed were between 24 and 38 years old, 80% male and 20% female. Of these, 65% had completed secondary education and 15% had completed a degree at a college or university.

As many as 90% of those interviewed used ICTs on their farms. The ICT tools used most often were Excel and Word; the internet (computer and mobile); FrontlineSMS; video, radio and TV; and online newspapers, magazines and brochures.

One of the report’s most interesting discoveries was a difference in attitude towards ICTs and agriculture among single farmers and farmers who are married and have children. Single farmers initially view ICTs as a gateway to better jobs and employment outside farming, according to the report. Young farmers with families, on the other hand, immediately focus on using ICTs to improve productivity and profitability.

The report’s complete findings and recommendations can be found on  http://goo.gl/6bvWZy .

This article was first published in the May 2014 issue of  ICT UPDATE BY CTA