The Agricultural Sector is one of the key drivers of the Ghana’s economy, for which the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) is mandated by law to develop policies and programmes for the transformation of the agricultural sector.
In Ghana, in calculating the contribution of Agriculture to GDP growth, the five main sub-sectors considered are Crops, Fisheries, Forestry, Cocoa and Livestock. In effect, the e-Agriculture (ICT in Agriculture) ecosystem takes into consideration all activities of these subsectors including others such as ministries, institutions, agencies, non-governmental organizations, civil society organizations, development partners, multi-and-bilateral organizations among others.
The agriculture sector must deal with ICT-oriented:
Programmes or Projects that have features such as SMART (Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely) backed by effective (business model) with
Policy having features of SCRASIFS (Specific, Clear, Reliable, Appropriate, Simple, Inclusive, Flexible, Stable) and rendering
Services with features of each Development Objective (DO) meeting five data quality standards abbreviated VIPRT (Validity, Integrity, Precision, Reliability, and Timeliness) simultaneously. NB. MoFA FASDEP II and METASIP II/III seem to lack these prerequisites (debatable)
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) plays a substantial role in developing agricultural growth through the use of various devices and mechanisms to attain economic sustainability and self-reliance
ICT in Agriculture - Electronic-Agriculture (E-Agriculture) is an emerging field, focused on the enhancement of agricultural and rural development through improved information and communication processes. The E-Agriculture disseminates useful information through Decision Support System (DSS), Management Information System (MIS) and Expert System (ES) by infusing the User Interface and Knowledge Management System . More so, E-Agriculture promotes the integration of technology with multimedia, knowledge and culture, with the aim of improving communication and learning processes between various actors in agriculture locally, regionally and worldwide.
E-Agriculture is the use of integration of Agriculture Technology and Information Communication Technology culminating in application of software, hardware, middleware to enhance best practices (harness) of production and productivity in agriculture both in quantity and quality; storage, exchange, sharing and dissemination of its information and data timely; and traceability of production and productivity in real time (Salakpi, 2017)
E-Agriculture comprises issues of agriculture ecosystem including electronic platform considering socio-economic status and policy revolving around best agricultural practices, food security, livelihood, job creation among others
Definition of E-Agriculture
The FAO defines it as: "An emerging field in the intersection of agricultural informatics, agricultural development and entrepreneurship, referring to agricultural services, technology dissemination, and information delivered or enhanced through the Internet and related technologies (FAO, 2005)."
In the international context: In fulfillment of the action lines identified in the Declaration and Plan of Action of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). According to the Geneva Plan of Action the WSIS Action Lines as follows: C1: The role of Governments and all stakeholders in the promotion of ICTs for development; C2: Information and Communication Infrastructure; C3: Access to information and knowledge; C4: Capacity building; C5: Building confidence and security in use of ICTs; and C7: ICT Application in E-Agriculture (ITU, 2016) The UN-FAO was tasked to champion e-Agriculture issues in all countries (UN, 2003).
Furthermore, in achieving the commitment of Ghana as a member state of 191-nations of the United Nations to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (UNDP, 2016) Typical ones are Goal 1- No poverty. Goal 2 – Zero hunger. Goal 9 - Industry, innovation and infrastructure and Goal 17- Develop a global partnership for development. In cooperation with the private sector, make available benefits of new technologies, especially Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs)
The Africa Union, through the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) framework, adopted the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). The framework aims to accelerate agricultural growth by 6% through a 10% contribution of government’s total expenditure to the agricultural sector (AU, 2016).
“Moore’s Law of Agriculture” is based on the vision that between 2016 and 2050 the world’s population might rise to about 9.7 billion people. The current world population of 7.6 billion is expected to reach 8.6 billion in 2030, 9.8 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100 (UN, 2017). This implies more mouths to feed.
In the national context: Ghana’s ICT4D target of significantly enriching citizens socio-economic and cultural well-being through rapid development and modernization of agriculture thereby tackling poverty alleviation as mentioned in Chapter 1 section 1.1. (NITA, 2016).
The focus of agricultural development in the Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda (GSGDA II) is the modernization of agriculture to contribute significantly to the structural transformation of the economy. (MoFA, 2016) It is also to achieve goals of “Planting for Food & Jobs” a flagship of current Government (2017-2020)
In the local context; taking cognizance of poverty alleviation of Ghanaian farmers, fishers, foresters, animal husbandry and eradication of extreme poverty in Ghana. Ultimately, improve livelihood.
Specific objectives of the e-Agriculture:
1. To bridge farmer-extension officeragent ratio gap enabling more dissemination of information and its assimilation.
2. To develop or acquire applications to collect, collate, store, archive and share information.
3. To improve access and dissemination of information to farmers and other stakeholders
4. To promote and facilitate the establishment of public-private partnerships in the collation and dissemination of agricultural information both nation-wide and world- wide.
5. To promote and support the development of content in local languages.
6. To develop and maintain National Agricultural Database of farmers, agricultural information etc.
7. To create awareness on the e-Agriculture platform through TV, Radio, newspaper publication and social media.
8. To improve the knowledge, skills and competencies of staff of MOFA, farmers and other stakeholders in utilizing e-resources
9. To accomplish ‘DIGITAL’, ‘PRECISION’ & ‘SMART’ Agriculture in Ghana
It is in line with these objectives that the CSIR -STEPRI, in order to augment and sharpen the ability of its staff to continue to influence discussion in the agricuktural sector in the areas of policy,programmes and services, has organised a 2 day Training Workshop for selected Research staff on the use of ICT in Agriculture.
Day 1 was used to take participants through the Developemt of the Telecom Market in Ghana: Historical and Performance Analysis and was facilitated by Dr. Godfred Kwasi Frempong, a Chief Reserach Scientist at the CSIR-STEPRI.
Day 2 was dedicated to issues to do with E- Agriculture and was faclilitated by Dr Simeon Von Salakpi, who is the National Co-ordinator for the E-AGRICULTURE Programme and the ICT Manager at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture.