Department and School: Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness Management; Egerton University
As the world`s population is constantly growing, food security has become a thorny trending issue. The impact has particularly been felt more in Africa as most of the population lives below the poverty line. Access to safe and healthy food has become a major concern for all African countries and the world at large. This state has pushed stakeholders, governments, donors and all involved parties to get out of their comfort zones and find long lasting solutions through Agricultural Innovations. It is in solving this problem, that innovations to support market structures have been developed. This is because market information has been identified as a critical point not only in increasing production but also creating avenues for farmers to trade and compete at both the regional and global markets, thus increasing access to food for most of Africa rural poor. However, access to essential market information has been a big challenge to the African farmer.
This dilemma has prompted the introduction and incorporation of Market Information Systems (MIS), as some of the Agricultural innovations, to both government and private agricultural institutions. MIS programmes and services have been channeled and availed through various mediums to suit different target groups.
E-agriculture for instance has enabled most farmers to access information through the internet. It is noted that over 69.3% Mobile Phone Subscribers’ in Africa, use of ICTs in Agriculture is gaining traction. Farmers are able to access information on Market prices, weather and consumer behavioral patterns. . Farmers are now able to project future market patterns and therefore make informed decisions. Many institutions have used this innovation to create websites or SMS based systems where they avail information about their work programs and research. A case in Mind is the Regional Marketing Information System (RATIN) hosted by the Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC).
Use of tv and radio as mediums of market information has also been on the increase. Radio programmes have been more effective as they have the advantage of translation to native languages to cub language barrier problems.
All these innovations have contributed a lot towards availing information to farmers and traders therefore shortening the marketing chains enabling trade to take place. Markets acts as incentives for farmers. This has resulted to increased access to markets, availability of food due to productivity and trade and improved nutrition due to more knowledge informed through ICT innovations in Agriculture.
As times, goes, Africa will need to feed the 7 Billion world’s population, it is therefore envisaged that this emerging Agricultural Innovation, that embrace modern technology, will be the drivers of Agricultural growth and food security. With this, we urge FARA and its continental partners, to support strategies, that increase uptake of Agricultural Innovations, devise inclusive platforms and increase youth and women participation in Agriculture through simplified ICT systems and embracing of all Agricultural innovation, for indeed, this is the key to Africa’s Agricultural revolution.
‘Knowledge is power information is liberation’ – Kofi Anan.