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18 January 2017

68th New Year School Conference underway in Accra

President Akufo-Addo interacting with the leadership of the New Year School after the opening ceremony in Accra.Picture: SAMUEL TEI ADANO

The 68th Annual New Year School and Conference opened at the University of Ghana, Legon, yesterday, with about 200 participants discussing how information and communications technology (ICT) can be used as an enabler of socio-economic development.

This year’s school, on the broad theme: “Promoting national development through agricultural modernisation: The role of ICT”, has seven sub-themes, all geared towards changing the face of agriculture using ICT.

Organised by the School of Continuing and Distance Education of the University of Ghana, the New Year School seeks to create a platform for a dispassionate discussion of how ICT can be integrated in agriculture to modernise the sector and increase productivity for sustainable development.

Topics lined up for the four-day programme include: ‘Modernising agriculture through ICT’, ‘E-Solutions and agricultural productivity’, ‘Strengthening the agricultural value chain through ICT’, ‘E-extension and adoption in agriculture’, ‘E-agriculture and the youth’ and ‘ICT, climate change and agricultural production’.

Agriculture and ICT

During the four-day school and conference, providers of e-agriculture solutions will share their lessons and identify ways of scaling up the use of agricultural Apps and build the capacity of farmers and farmer groups to use ICT.

Additionally, they will explore innovative ways of strengthening the agricultural value chain using ICT and also explore how e-extension can be used to improve access to relevant information for all categories of farmers.

The event will also discuss ways of utilising ICT to encourage the youth to take up agriculture, create a platform for sharing knowledge on how to address the challenge of agricultural financing and insurance and also explore the use of ICT tools to address the threat of climate change.

ICT for registration

At the opening ceremony, the Minister-designate for the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, announced that the government would launch a national campaign dubbed: “Planting for food and jobs”, starting from this year.

The campaign, structured along the lines of the erstwhile ‘Operation Feed Yourself’ programme of the 1970s, was designed to encourage all citizens to take up farming as a full or pastime activity, he said.

Dr Akoto said the campaign would require the use of ICT in the identification and registration of farmers, the supply of farm inputs, transportation and marketing of produce.

He said the effective monitoring and control of the campaign would rely heavily on the use of ICT and charged the participants to come up with practicable ICT ideas to support the agricultural development effort.

Impact of ICT

The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Professor Ebenezer Oduro Owusu, said in line with the strategic thrust for the past few years, “we continue to look at how ICT is impacting our social structure”.

He said ICT had been seen as critical to rapid development in developing countries because of its capacity to create opportunities for economic development and its effect on poverty reduction.

He noted that no country could effectively promote national development if it went about deploying ICT in a “business-as-usual fashion”.

Prof. Owusu said deploying ICT in agriculture called for a serious approach and fundamental shifts in policy and orientation of governments, policy makers and farmers.

Source:graphic.com.gh

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