Focus on innovation, technology to boost agric - Bagbin to farmers
The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, has called on African governments to focus on innovation and technology in farming if Africa is to attain its potential as the food basket of the world.
He said technologies such as GPS, sensors, drones and data analytics must be deployed in agriculture to optimise resource use, monitor crop health and improve yields.
These, he stated, would also enable the youth in agriculture to make informed decisions based on reliable data, reduce waste and increase efficiency.
Mr Bagbin was speaking at the Convention and 30th anniversary of the Council of Ewe Associations of North America (CEANA) in Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America (USA).
It was on the theme: “Empowering our youth towards innovative entrepreneurship in transformational agriculture”.
The Speaker insisted that today’s youth were technologically savvy, making the crude approach to farming a turn-off for them.
“If governments direct resources into modernising agriculture and infusing technology into farm practices, more youth will opt for the sector.
This will address the challenges of feeding a global population sustainably, creating economic opportunities for rural communities and transforming how we produce, distribute and consume food,” Mr Bagbin said.
CEANA is a non-profit organisation that provides advocacy and leadership towards the socioeconomic and cultural development of Ewe areas.
It seeks to provide community development assistance to poor women and schoolchildren in deprived communities in three West African countries (Ghana, Togo and Benin)
All 19 groups within the organisation were well represented at the conference.
The Speaker was accompanied by his wife, Alice Adjua Yornas; the Member of Parliament (MP) for Ho West, Emmanuel Bedzrah; the MP for South Dayi, Rockson Dafeamakpor; the MP for Kpando, Dela Sowah; the MP for North Dayi, Joycelyn Tetteh; the Speaker’s Special Aide and former MP for Ho Central, Kofi Attor, and the Speaker’s Communication expert, Gayheart Edem Mensah.
Innovation in agriculture, the Speaker added, should target waste reduction and a re-think through the perennial glut of farm produce, the horribly low prices during the glut, and how farm produce was left to rot, only to be followed by a season of scarcity.
“This should inform the approach to managing post-harvest losses and support agro-businesses to mitigate such losses.
“Also, marketing of farm produce should be done in innovative ways to support local economies in Africa, reduce food miles and enhance the effectiveness of the food supply chain,” he emphasised.
To attract the youth into agriculture, Mr Babgin called for policies to promote secure land tenure and access for the youth.
He mentioned land redistribution, leasing programmes, and support for communal land ownership as some necessary initiatives, as well as a deliberate effort to involve women, indigenous communities and the rural youth in agriculture.
Access to finance
He asked financial institutions in Africa to provide access to financing for young farmers and offer low-interest loans, grants and subsidies to help the youth to invest in equipment and seeds, among others.
He explained that empowering the youth in agriculture required a holistic approach that addressed the modernisation of agriculture, education, access to resources, policy support and cultural attitudes.
The Speaker, also known as Torgbui Nuterperwola Awudome I, congratulated CEANA, which groups Ewes from Ghana, Togo and Benin in North America, for attaining 30 years.
Mr Bagbin said the resilience, perseverance and hard work that had sustained the association over the past three decades could not be taken for granted.
He spoke about the coincidence of CEANA, Ghana’s Parliament and himself celebrating 30 years, saying “I know what it takes to be doing the same thing for 30 years, and striving to be better each year than you were in the previous one”.
The Speaker was impressed by CEANA’s commitment to improving upon farm practices and developing the Ewe communities in the three countries and said.
“It portrays an association of people who are altruistic, driven by the desire to make an impact on the current and future generations”.