An ‘Agricultural Revolution’ for Ghana through innovation and technology
November 27, 2017 – Agriculture is the backbone of Ghana’s economy, and plays a key role in the country’s future development. According to PwC research, the sector expanded 3.6% in 2016, exceed the expected growth of 3.5%. Additionally, the research stipulates that the ‘crops’ sub-sector of the agriculture industry accounted for over 70% of the sector. In total, agriculture counts for 20.1% of Ghana’s GDP.
There is no doubt about agriculture’s contribution to Ghana’s development and its effect on reducing poverty. For the sector to continue to grow, Ghana must use the power of technology and innovation as part of the solution. Why has Kosmos Innovation Center chosen to focus on harnessing technology, and innovation to transform Ghana’s agriculture sector?
All around the world, affordable technological applications and devices have helped agriculture overcome a myriad of challenges. These play an important role in agricultural value chains, with different types of technologies having different strengths and weaknesses when applied to particular interventions. The impacts of technology is diverse, and it influences market competitiveness in different ways.
However, technology is a tool, and like all tools, it is only useful when people have the skills, processes, and contextual support to use it effectively. While the positive impacts of technology are being catalogued and discussed, many rural farmers still do not have access to or the capacity to use many common types of technology. There is also a gap for those currently using applications and devices who have not fully benefitted from its use.
Though there have been many interventions using ICT to address challenges affecting the industry, the use of these applications and devices have not gained much of a foothold within Ghana’s agricultural value chain. According to the Ghana Shared Growth Agenda (2010 & 2013), challenges within the agriculture sector fall in the follow categories:
- reliance on rain-fed agriculture;
- low level of mechanization;
- high post-harvest losses due to poor post-harvest management;
- low level agricultural finance;
- poor extension services due to institutional and structural inefficiencies;
- low uptake of research findings by stakeholders;
- limited availability of improved technological packages, especially planting materials and certified seeds;
- inadequate markets;
- poor management along the agriculture value chain, and
- difficulties associated with acquisition of land.
An overarching challenge is a lack of young talent in the sector. Who then drives the sector’s transformation? KIC has recognized the need make agriculture more attractive to Ghanaian youth, and more needs to be done to make this sector as attractive to young entrepreneurs.
The Kosmos Innovation Center has created the right location and opportunity to excite youth into taking a second look at agriculture – boosting it up with technology and innovation.
Collaboration is key to KIC’s success – we provide the right mix of players within the agricultural sector and other related sectors to educate and inspire the youth and identify challenges.
In less than two years of launching the KIC, the program has created six startups companies. The startup companies are developing exciting and innovative products that are addressing challenges in the sector.
For example, there is Trotro Tractor, a tractor rental and booking service that links tractor owners or operators with farmers who wish to plow their lands. Ghalani created a dashboard that allows farmers and agribusinesses to organize their workers, monitor the flow and use of money on their land, and keep track of the yields and incomes, all from their mobile device!
Now, six companies are in incubation at the Meltwater School of Technology and Entrepreneurship (MEST).
We believe these companies will grow to become catalyst for change within the agriculture sector in Ghana using ICT, technology and innovation and will get the youth to look at more at agriculture as interesting industry to focus their innovations, touching on the entire value chain from the smallholder in Tamale to the big processor in Tema.
We are here to stay and believe we will make an impact!