Experts at the 2013 euroafrica-ict conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, last week noted that radio and mobile phone systems are vital and sustainable solutions that can help improve agricultural production in Africa if managed well on a large scale, and that integrating the right applications of information and communication technology (ICT) in agricultural activities can help increase sustainable food production.
The experts were impressed with a system designed by Ethiopia-based technology firm, Apposit, for use in the agricultural value chain. The system provides different services to farmers such as information on market prices, agricultural tips and practices as well as general communication through short message services and interactive voice response through mobile phones. The system also improves efficiency in working practices — such as providing near real-time data collection tools for logistics and warehouse management decisions made with more time-relevant information.
Gideon Abate, a senior project manager at Apposit, says among the greatest challenges in ICT applications in agriculture are inadequate mobile connectivity and mobile literacy. He argues that these challenges continue to determine how well solutions can be rolled out to the field.
“There is a long way to go before we see real benefits from the use of ICT applications in agriculture in Ethiopia and Africa due to these challenges,” Abate told SciDev.Net. “We are taking on the challenges to ensure that with each new client we also deliver a host of other services to benefit the end users.”
The experts from national and international companies, research institutes and academic institutions from Africa and Europe as well as policymakers recognized the opportunities and challenges of ICTs to boost farming. The question that remains is whether more practical solutions such as the one by Apposit could be implemented in many African countries to help millions of smallholder farmers increase food production and achieve food security. To read more, click HERE.