Professor Michael Tagoe, Dean of the School of Continuing and Distance Education at the University of Ghana, has said the government must look beyond mechanisation of agriculture and incorporate information communication technology as a way of boosting the sector’s poor output.
According to Prof. Tagoe, over the years, the government has pursued an agenda to introduce more tractors, among other farm machinery, to boost agriculture productivity.
Doing that without arming farmers with requisite knowledge is not enough to transform the sector, he said ahead of this year’s New Year School.
He added that several forms of research conducted both by the University of Ghana, as well as other reputable organsiations, point to the fact that when farmers are given requisite ICT tools and services they are able to boost their productivity.
Prof. Tagoe stated that, for instance, the provision of timely market information, weather, pricing as well as those relating to soil, among others, via mobile phones alone, has the potential to improve farmers’ output.
He thus urged the new government to deepen the use of ICT in agriculture, as a means of boosting agric output.
This year’s New Year School is on theme: ‘Promoting National Development through Agricultural Modernisation: The Role of ICT.’
Prof. Tagoe told the B&FT that, in spite of government’s effort to improve the agricultural sector, it continues to decline steadily in terms of its contribution to Gross Domestic Product.
‘The decline, which has been attributed to perennial problems facing the sector, is a source of worry since the agricultural sector employs about 44 percent of the Ghanaian population. There is no doubt that the challenges facing agriculture could be addressed significantly by using Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), as ICT has been recognised as a key development enabler,” he said.
Effectively harnessing ICT, Prof. Tagoe indicated, has the huge potential of modernising Ghana’s agricultural sector and transforming the livelihoods of the men and women who work in the sector.
“So, the major question which the 68th Annual New Year School and Conference seek to address is: ‘How can we integrate ICT effectively within the agriculture sector to overcome the perennial challenges and to increase productivity in the sector?” he explained.
The objectives of the five-day event, which opened yesterday, include providing the platform for sharing of best practices among Political Leaders, Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives, Farmers, Civil Society Organizations, NGOs and Religious Groups on how to create a Community of Practice (CoP) among various institutions and individuals who have a role to play in integrating ICT in agriculture.
It intends to raise public awareness of the provisions in the Economic Commission for Africa’s Information Communication for Accelerated Development (ICT4AD) Policy on the strategies to be adopted to modernise agriculture through the development of a national e-agriculture policy for Ghana.
The event will bring together e-agriculture solution providers to share knowledge on innovative e-agriculture solutions and identify ways to scale up some of the e-agriculture solutions at the national level.