Only 18% of young people in agriculture use agro-technological innovation; survey | New times


A A new report titled “The Future of African Agriculture – An Assessment of the Role of Youth and Technology” found that despite 45% of young people engaged in agriculture, only 18% of young people are engaged in agriculture. they use agro-technological innovation in Rwanda.

The survey conducted by Heifer International interviewed 29,954 youth, 299 smallholder farmers and 110 agriculture-focused organizations in eleven countries, namely Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

In Rwanda, the survey was conducted among 3,362 respondents.

The survey indicates that innovators have started to rely on technologies such as artificial intelligence, remote sensing, geographic information software, virtual reality, drone technology, programming interface technology of ‘applications and precision technology to provide accurate measurement of precipitation, pest control, soil information, soil productivity, farm size and productivity potential.

However, on a large scale, the results showed that despite the potential of technology to change Africa’s agricultural sector, the continent’s smallholder farmers continue to face challenges in incorporating technology into their farming practices.

The survey found that only 23 percent of youth engaged in agriculture use some form of agricultural technology such as app, SMS, website, software, among others in the countries surveyed.

“Overall, the adoption of the technology in Africa is quite low. Ghana, Senegal and Zambia have the lowest adoption rates of agricultural technologies, while Zimbabwe, Kenya and Nigeria have the highest adoption rates, ”the report says.

Lack of access to land

The survey found that access to land or property is a major cause for concern as 59 percent of young people surveyed said they did not have both in 11 countries.

The report shows that 70 percent of young people do not have access to land in Rwanda.

“Most young people in Africa do not have access to land for agriculture. Fifty-nine percent of the young people surveyed do not have access to land or do not own it. Land ownership among young people is lowest in Ghana, Zambia, Senegal and Rwanda. Young people in Malawi appear to have access to land with only 14% not having access to it, the lowest among the countries surveyed, ”one part of the report reads.

Financing, training and access to agricultural technology are the three key areas to help young people encourage their involvement in agriculture, the report recommends.

At least 39% of farmer organizations surveyed said that the best way to involve young people in agriculture in Africa is technological innovation, 32% suggested government support for young farmers and 21% suggested including young people in agricultural policy.

It indicates that 37% of young people surveyed said that access to finance was a major obstacle to youth engagement in agriculture in Africa, while 14% and 12% respectively said that lack of access to land and lack of training are major obstacles.

What are the causes of the low adoption of technology?

Smallholder farmers and agriculture-focused organizations interviewed suggested that literacy, socio-economic status and insufficiency as well as lack of extension services are the main reasons for the low adoption of the technology.

Smallholder farmers have indicated that information, information and affordability will encourage them to embrace technological innovation.

At least 30 percent of those polled said that the inclement weather conditions had a negative impact on the productivity of farmers, as 17 percent attributed the low yield to insects, pests and diseases while 14 percent the attribute to technological barriers.

The coronavirus epidemic has affected 40% of organizations focused on agriculture because they have had to temporarily shut down their activities, 38% have seen a reduction in the average amount of purchases per customer and 36% do not have the financial capital to develop their business.

Ten of the eleven countries, with the exception of Tanzania, agreed that the most important support required is funding.

When put in context, training and mentoring are seen as more important than funding in Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

More young people stressed the need for support in the area of ​​market access in Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

Young people in Senegal, Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana prioritized the need for support in Agric-Tech while access to land was urgently needed in Zimbabwe, Rwanda and Zambia.

“The role of youth participation as well as the adaptation of smart and Africa-centric Agri-Techs is a key determinant in supporting the agricultural sector. Encouraging innovation by supporting programs to accelerate agricultural technology startups, youth-owned agricultural businesses and other business actors along the agricultural value chain will catalyze economic development in Africa, ”the report recommends.

Dr Octave Semwaga, director general of agricultural modernization at the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources, reiterated that young people are needed on board to boost agricultural productivity, adding: “Otherwise, we could reach where we don’t have farmers.

“Agriculture is the backbone of the economy, when it grows other sectors also develop,” he said, explaining why young people should be involved.

Due to the scarcity of available land, the government of Rwanda is encouraging intensification as a strategy to increase production and farmers’ incomes, officials said.

According to the Strategic Plan for the Transformation of Agriculture (PSTAIII), the long-term objective is to move Rwandan agriculture from a predominantly subsistence sector to a more knowledge-intensive and market-oriented sector. , supporting growth and adding value to products.

Need for practical skills

Semwaga said that in order to increase the practical skills of young people in agriculture, the government is sending some to Israel to learn how to transform Rwanda’s agricultural sector.

So far, he said that since 2012, at least 1,139 young people have completed an 11-month training course and have returned to Rwanda, adding that 193 young people are undergoing the same training.

“After their return, some set up their own businesses to serve farmers,” he noted.

Elisee Kamanzi, country director for Heifer International Rwanda, said tackling barriers expressed by youth could boost agricultural productivity in Africa to meet food demand and reduce youth unemployment.

“We are in a situation where our farmers are on average almost 62 years old. If we look at the 2050 vision, then with this situation of aging farmers, we might not have people who could feed us. We believe that if we understand what makes young people not see farming as a desirable profession and livelihood, we will have problems in the future, ”he said.

He said young people need easy-to-adopt agricultural technology solutions, as suggested by 30 percent of those polled.

Ritha Tumukunde, agricultural socio-economics specialist at the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources, said she was working with different stakeholders to develop youth employment in the agricultural food system strategy.

“The study will inform what we are doing to develop this strategy,” she said.

Victor Muvunyi, senior emerging technology technologist at the Ministry of ICT and Innovation, said more agricultural technology solutions are being developed, although adoption is still low.

“We want to become an ICT hub and need a vibrant innovation ecosystem,” he said, adding that Africa is a young continent and therefore should engage in innovative agriculture.

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