In early November, over 400 delegates gathered in Kigali to discuss advances in ICTs for agriculture.
The conference had three streams focusing on: emerging innovations in ICTs supporting agricultural development, capacity strengthening and stakeholder empowerment for improved livelihood and engagement in agricultural development processes and enabling environment for the agricultural sector to maximize the benefits from ICTs.
The conference was a good opportunity for participants to know how ICT is helping to transform the agriculture and livestock sector particularly the major players in agriculture, the farmers, in getting information about markets, prices, expert advice and available new technologies. Mobile applications were presented as an emerging and innovative technology in helping African farmers. Apart from mobile applications, radio and video were also mentioned as potential contributors. Furthermore, social media (facebook, twitter etc.) were presented as ways of social learning that could help in solving complex problems using multiple tools.
However these ICTs will not help a lot if there is no appropriate capacity and knowledge for stakeholders on how to effectively use them. Under this stream the conference focused on some current concepts, models approaches and initiatives being used by stakeholders to ensure bottom –up capacity strengthening and stakeholders empowerment.
Some insights I took away for Africa RISING are:
- To identify the best ICT tools to help smallholder farmers in the different intervention areas to get access to information, expert advice, weather conditions and prices;
- Build the capacity of stakeholders and farmers on the specific technologies to be used;
- Collaborate with government and the private sector to promote the accessibility of ICTs