Since Okuafo Foundation (OF) won the Zayed Sustainability Prize, an annual global award that recognises and rewards SMEs and non-profit organisations with innovative, impactful and sustainable solutions in health, water, energy, food, and global high schools earlier this year, the foundation has been trying to make farming easy for farmers in Ghana with technology. With the knowledge that agriculture is important for any economy to survive, they developed an app that provides farmers with all kinds of information and services to help their farm produce.
In 2017, the Agricultural Sector Progress Report showed that the number of new technologies set up and showcased to farmers from across the country in field demonstrations increased from 218 in 2016 to 2,534 in 2017. It is estimated that 127,848 farmers benefitted from the adoption of some of the innovations, of which 41.3 percent were women.
The co-founder and AI Research Lead of the organisation, Mustapha Diyaol-Haqq, stated, ‘As a digital innovator, my world revolves around apps, AI and devices that provide farmers with access to all kinds of information and services – from advanced pesticides to irrigation techniques, specialty fertilisers and solar-powered milling facilities. This digital transformation is part and parcel of the fourth industrial revolution and utterly transformative for value chains, quality, the quantity of food, and most importantly, food security. This narrative – which we’re all familiar with – risks overshadowing the needs and challenges faced every day by the farmers whose day-to-day toil provides all of Africa with a basis for food security: subsistence farmers’.
He added, ‘Subsistence farmers can also gain access to these developmental advantages through the kind of digital tech that we’re pioneering at [OF]. We have been working with over 600 rural farmer leaders to produce more food to feed the future. The app has helped up to 30,000 smallholder farmers reduce their crop losses by at least 50 percent so far, which it does through machine learning and data analytics to diagnose crop diseases at early stages’.
Diyaol-Haqq also said, ’To improve agricultural output, boost subsistence incomes, and reduce poverty in Ghana, a mix of technologies and operational support services are needed. Extension services like temperature-controlled storage facilities and knowing how to market and grow a business are also crucial’.
’However, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has been carrying out research and development to specifically address the issue of food security in Ghana. The policy-led approach is an important part of the jigsaw, thereby welcoming scientists and specialists into the fray to help develop innovative solutions for food security’, he concluded.
Source: Tech Dot Africa
Photo source: Ikhlasul Amal