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19 January 2017

‘Attract youth into agric through ICT applications’

Dr Emmanuel Dormon speaking at the event PICTURE MAXWELL OCLOO

The Chief of Party of the Agriculture Development and Value Chain Enhancement (ADVANCE) Programme, Dr Emmanuel Dormon, says the government’s plans to create thousands of jobs in the agricultural sector cannot be achieved without the aggressive use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT).

He said ICT policies of the country should be broken down into specific actionable tasks, and deployed together with the technologies and the human capacity, which were available.

“What is lacking is harnessing these resources and making sure that we have a business model that people can trust would be viable and make money,” he said.

ICT and agriculture

Dr Dormon was speaking at a panel discussion on the topic: Modernising Agriculture through ICT at the 68th Annual New Year School organised by the School of Continuing Distance Education of the University of Ghana, Legon.

The 68th School is on the theme: “Promoting National Development through Agricultural Modernisation: the Role of ICT.”

Harmony

The chief of party recounted some of the achievements gained under the ADVANCE programme, where with improved technology and basic agronomic practices, yields of six tonnes of maize per hectare were realised in the country, compared to the normal yields of 1.4 tonnes per hectare.

He said ICT provided opportunities for the timely dissemination of information to farmers for decision making, but conceded that efforts of ICT use in agriculture in the country were inadequate to improve the performance of the country’s agricultural sector.

Dr Dormon also expressed worry that several ICT efforts in the agricultural sector, that were donor-funded and that never grew from the pilot stages into viable efforts, whittled away as soon as the donor funding ended or the pilot stages were over.

Way forward

He suggested innovative thinking, where policy makers would provide incentives for air time on television or radio for the dissemination of agricultural information to farmers.

Dr Dormon also proposed private partnerships for sustainable efforts with ICT in the sector.

“First, agriculture is going to continue to be the way it is if we don’t move away from the labour intensiveness; the youth will continue not to be interested because it is too labour intensive, productivity is low, the money they make from it is too little so they are not  interested,” he added.

He expressed the view, however, that if ICT was brought to bear on the sector and it became more efficient, with some technology and machinery, the sector could become less of drudgery, with the youth getting interested and making money.

“Once they can make money, you don’t need to tell them, they will go into the sector,” he said.

Complement

Other speakers at the discussion included the Dean of the School of Agriculture of the University of Ghana, Prof. John Ofosu Anim and the Director of the Crops Services Directorate of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Mr Seth Osei Akoto.

The Founder, President and Chief Executive of IMANI, Mr Franklin Cudjoe, who moderated the discussions, described the exercise as useful, but said they had to be complemented with strategies for trade within the agricultural sector.

 

Writer’s email: caroline.boateng@graphic.com.gh

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