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ICT use gives Africa hope in food security


Technology-driven agribusiness offers youth a viable escape route from unemployment and a chance of biting a share of the food industry estimated to hit $1 trillion (Sh103 trillion) by 2030.

The African Youth Agripreneurs Forum held in Ibadan, Nigeria, last week generated findings indicating that mass scale adoption of mechanisation and ICT in farming would accelerate wealth creation and cushion the continent from perennial food shortages.

Technology use, the participants were told, enables farmers to innovate better ideas, troubleshoot problems and generate solutions faster.

“The future of African agribusinesses is invariably linked to maximising the use of technology in form of mechanisation and ICT systems,” said Hemant Nitturkar, the project director at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture.

Several African nations continue to grapple with food shortages and high commodity prices, including Kenya, despite boasting vast arable farmlands.

This has been blamed on little mechanisation, which gets much work done with fewer hands, alongside Africa’s heavy reliance on rain-fed, manual farming.

Agricultural economist, Edson Mpyisi, said the youth population growth could be the continent’s demographic dividend or curse depending on how their energy is put to use. He said agribusiness is a powerful tool to empower young people and guarantee the continent of food security.

Participants at the forum were urged to explore innovative fundraising options, including the unpopular zero-capital model that rides on creativity, partnerships and associations.

Samuel Martin, a serial entrepreneur from Cote d’Ivoire, said he started his venture with near-zero resources through brokerage.

By brokering other businesses, Martin said, he started a startup that gave school kids in his home country access to computers.