In Nairobi, Agriculture Minister Frank Tumwebaze addressed a five-day African conference on Agriculture Technologies, emphasizing the need to customize technological solutions to different stages of the value chain. This, he believes, would render these technologies more applicable and beneficial to farmers.
During the conference, Tumwebaze stressed that technological innovations should be tailored to the specific requirements of farmers, depending on the crops or livestock they cultivate. He highlighted the importance of making these technologies accessible and affordable to the farming community.
The primary objective of the conference is to address the impediments to technology access, delivery, and adoption within the African agricultural sector. The event also serves as a platform for sharing progress in innovative technologies designed for smallholder farmers across the continent.
Tumwebaze distinguished between two categories of technology: physical machinery for large-scale agriculture and precision farming technologies, which revolve around monitoring and responding to field changes. He underlined the necessity of facilitating these technologies with proper enablers for effective utilization.
While acknowledging the efforts made by agricultural ministries to provide physical technologies to farmers, Tumwebaze urged the conference to explore ways to enhance E-agriculture technologies. He stressed that certain E-agriculture solutions rely on electricity and internet access, prompting a discussion on extending these services to rural areas where they are currently lacking.
The Agriculture Minister pointed out that rural areas, where farmers require services such as weather information, agricultural extension support, and access to markets, often suffer from inadequate internet connectivity. He expressed the need for strategies to expand internet access to these underserved regions.
Tumwebaze’s call for improved technological infrastructure was echoed by Mithika Linturi, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock. Linturi lamented the slow development of Africa’s agriculture sector, attributing it to challenges such as climate change, pests and diseases, weak market linkages, low mechanization, and post-harvest losses. He emphasized the importance of affordable inputs, agricultural extension services, and market connections in addressing these issues.
Former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, serving as the keynote speaker and AATF Goodwill Ambassador for Agriculture Technologies in Africa, highlighted Africa’s vulnerability to food inadequacy, driven in part by high food imports and global disruptions caused by events like the COVID-19 pandemic and the Ukraine-Russian conflict.
Jonathan drew attention to the growing global population and the escalating demand for food, stressing that climate change threatens conventional agricultural practices. He called for innovative solutions that enhance efficiency, sustainability, and climate resilience in food production.
The former president emphasized the need to tailor innovations to suit the diverse needs of small and medium-scale farmers, who form the backbone of African agriculture. He advocated for accessible resources, both financial and technological, to empower these farmers to innovate and participate in economic development effectively.