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Sunday, November 10, 2013

'Mobile phones indispensable to smallholder farmers transformation'

NaijaAgroNet:

Director, Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation, Mr. Michael Hailu has described Information and communication technology (ICT) tools as an indispensable to the transformation of small holder farmers reports NaijaAgroNet.

He made this known to NaijaAgroNet, at a recent conference on ICTs in agriculture in Kigali, Rwanda, which ended at the weekend.

Pan Africa News Agency (PANA) reports that the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) is a joint ACP-EU institution active in agricultural and rural development in ACP countries, with the mission to advance food and nutritional security, increase prosperity and encourage sound natural resource management in ACP countries.

Hailu was quoted as saying that on this continent, 65 per cent of the workforce is employed in agriculture and the sector generates 32 per cent of Gross domestic products - GDP. Smallholder farmers, mostly women, produce 80 per cent of Africa’s food,

African countries, he said, spend up to US$ 50 billion a year on food imports, stressing that with abundant land, water and cheap labour, there is no good reason why Africa should import so much food.

“Yet there’s good reason to be optimistic. After years of neglect, governments and the private sector are increasing investments in agriculture,' Hailu said.

To achieve its full potential, he posited that smallholder agriculture must be transformed from a subsistence activity to a profitable, sustainable business and ICTs play a vital role in this transformation.

"They provide timely advice and information. They help farmers increase productivity. They make markets more efficient. And they increase incomes," he said.

Emphasising that in 2000, there were just 16.5 million mobile subscriptions in Africa, 13 years later, there are over 650 million.

"Indeed, the number of people on the continent with access to mobile phones exceeds the number with access to clean water, electricity or a bank account” he said.

NaijaAgroNet recalls that ICT4Ag held under the theme 'The Digital Springboard for Inclusive Agriculture´ Conference, was hosted by CTA, the Rwandan Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI) as well as the Ministry of Youth and ICTs (MYICT).

Isaac Oyimah with agency reports/GEE
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Pix: Director, Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation, Mr. Michael Hailu

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