How access to internet key to transforming Africa’s agricultural sector

Limited access to Internet is inhibiting the uptake of agricultural innovations across Africa according to Frank Tumwebaze, Uganda’s Minister for Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries.

Speaking at the sidelines of the two-day Africa-Korea Agtech Innovation Summit held in Nairobi, Tumwebaze, said, “While Agriculture remains the backbone of Africa’s economy, farmers in rural areas are yet to benefit from the innovative solutions designed to increase productivity within the sector.”

The Ugandan Minister emphasized the role of Governments’ investment in internet penetration across Africa’s rural areas. Access to internet will aid in adoption of technologies in the agricultural sector as the region assimilates the rise in AgTech innovations, he said.

“Innovation is key towards agriculture development in Africa. We have the capacity to feed ourselves and the world, but our farmers are still facing a myriad of challenges that can be addressed through innovation,” he said.

The Africa-Korea Agtech Summit was the highlight of the World-Bank backed Innovation Challenge, which brought together finalists enlisted to transform agriculture in Africa leveraging Disruptive Agricultural Technologies (DATs). The Summit draws upon the World Bank’s earlier work that mapped out the agricultural innovation ecosystems in Uganda, Kenya and South Korea.

World Bank Agriculture Economist, John Ilukor says,”There has been a spike in the number of scalable DATs in Africa founded in the last decade. The spike is a step in the right direction and follows in the footsteps of developed countries such as South Korea and Israel who overcame debilitating agricultural environments to emerge as leading economies sustained by AgTech.”

On his part, Dr. Henry Nakalet Opolot, Project Coordinator for ACDP and Assistant Commissioner at Ministry of Agriculture, Industry and Fisheries, Government of Uganda said, “Innovative solutions are the key to boosting employment and increasing youth participation in the agricultural sector that is largely driven by the elderly.”

“Technology will attract the youth in Agriculture since they are Tech survey, they can often address the well-known industry problems such as access to information, markets and post – harvesting solutions. However, we need to simplify our innovations so that they can be used by our farmers, taking into account that an average farmer in East Africa is 60 years old,” he added.

Tumwebaze, called on East African Communities to work together in creating an enabling environment for agriculture innovation to thrive.

“Agriculture will continue to remain central to Africa’s economic empowerment. World Bank data projects that over the next 20 years, there will be over 330 million new entrants into the African labor force and half a billion more people to feed by 2030. This means we need research driven policies, to support our future generations.

The summit ended on a high-note, with an award ceremony that saw winners of the Africa-Korea Agtech Innovation Challenge feted as follows;

Uganda’s Akorion Company Limited (EzyAgric) won the Improving Agricultural Productivity and Efficiency category

Kenya’s Kuza Biashara won the Improving Market access and providing downstream and upstream linkages category.

Ghana’s Farmerline Limited won the Financial Inclusion to farmers category.

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