Technology will bring new dynamics and perspectives to agriculture, experts say.
At a time when jobs are scarce as businesses move to reduce their expenses or close down altogether because of the pandemic, some young people have managed to amass fortune through agriculture.
Just as some young people had agriculture to fall upon, though, a majority are still experiencing low returns as they lack the much needed agricultural technology to increase their yields – many in recent years are turning away from agriculture to reconsider opportunities in other sectors.
According to the “Future of Africa’s Agriculture: An Assessment of the Role of Youth and Technology” by Heifer International, a development organization working to end hunger, only 23% of youth engaged in agriculture are embracing any form of technology in Africa.
Senior vice president for Africa Programs at Heifer International Adesuwa Ifedi says that Africa is not providing the financing or training to ensure its young people have easy access to agritech tools such as drone technologies, precision soil sensors and digital farmer services that are transforming food production around the world.
“Africa’s agricultural sector must provide the investments in agritech innovations that will encourage youth to embrace agriculture-related endeavours, because they are the key to revitalizing Africa’s food system,” says Ifedi.
The report, which surveyed 30, 000 young people in 11 countries states that lack of access to finance, land, training and investment in advanced technologies is pushing youth to cross to sectors that are seemingly providing sustainable incomes and rewarding opportunities.
It also states that in Kenya and Zimbabwe, 39% of young people use a form of agritech while in Nigeria it is 26% of the youth population thanks to “ease to use”, affordability and readily available information.
At the same time, Mercy Corps says 90% of farmers aged 18 to 35 years in the country have high levels of engagement with information and communication technology as they are active users of social media, particularly Facebook, Google and WhatsApp, and are bringing new dynamics and perspectives to agriculture.
Technologies such as cloud computing, open-source software, aerial imagery from drones or satellites, soil sensors that provide farmers with correct information and improved weather forecast will open a new chapter.