GHANA E-Agriculture Programme Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Republic of Ghana
The vision of the Ministry is a modernised agriculture culminating in a structurally transformed economy and evident in food security, employment opportunities and reduced poverty. read more at www.mofa.gov.gh
MOFA’s Mission is to promote sustainable agriculture and thriving agribusiness through research and technology development, effective extension and other support services to farmers, processors and traders for improved livelihood.
The Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) Information Communication and Technology Unit has implemented the E-Agriculture Programme which is an ICT initiative through the West African Agriculture Productivity Programme (WAAPP) with funds from the World Bank.
The programme covers all aspects of Agriculture in Ghana with focus on crops, livestock, vegetable production and Gender. The main objective of the E-Agriculture Programme is to provide affordable, prompt and efficient agricultural service delivery through the use of the internet; Information Communication Technologies (ICT’s).
This gives the actors of the agriculture value chain access to comprehensive and up-to-date information on Crop and Animal Production, Market Prices, Farm Management Techniques and Practices, and Traceability in the Ghanaian Agriculture.
The E-Agriculture Programme has a concept to embrace models that improve the communication and learning process of the actors in the agricultural value chain. This will help in bridging the gap between knowledge generators and users, where ICT is used to improve Agriculture, Food Security and Rural Development. Horticulture exports from Ghana have grown tremendously since 1997.
Pineapples and citrus fruits form the major bulk of horticultural exports, and these are sent to countries using air and sea route. The government has taken proactive steps to help horticultural exporters by linking them to the SPEG.
This enables a ship to anchor at the port of Tema, where one or more holds are loaded with the export and then transported Problems with Horticultural Exports from Ghana Quality is a major issue when it comes to horticulture.
The biggest challenge that Ghana faces today is educating the growers about quality issue. Using ICT platforms and portals can help farmers and growers on best farming and handling practices. The national e-Agriculture programme centre has a call center facility with a toll free number where farmers call for information on various Agricultural extension and advisory services.
Othe private sector organizations such as ESOKO and VODAFON has call centres serving the purpose of e-Agriculture in Ghana. We need to increatse private sector participation on ICT applications in Sustainable Horticulture production.
The components of the E-Agriculture Program Platform include the following:
- E-Farm Information (Farmer Audio Library/Interactive Voice Response System [IVR]); where an interested person calls a specific toll free line and is taken through the procedures of the desired crop / animal production in their local languages, anywhere and at any time.
- E-Field Extension; where extension officers are equipped with modern technologies and application for farmer data collection and report on occurrences on individual farms to boost accurate and prompt response to field needs and early control systems to safeguard food security. Call Centre; where the public can call the toll free line and get all the information needed concerning agriculture from the call centre agents, in whatever local language they can best communicate in. You can call the toll free number and IVR system on 1848 and 30037 in Ghana to access any information in Agriculture
- E-Learning and Resource Centre; a centre for information and technology training to promote youth in agriculture. Web Portal; for the publishing of news and current activities in the agricultural sector and have the information on all actors in the agricultural value chain.
THE IMPACT/BENEFITS OF E-AGRICULTURE FARMER
Greater access to expert information, services, and best practices. This project has made available a lot of information for farmer to make their work much easier. There are three main sources of information; The Interactive Voice Response (IVR) The web portal The call centre These sources have been made available to provide the expert information needed to make the farmer’s work much easier and more effective. Reducing the cost of trying remedies by the right information to remedy the situation at hand.
- A direct connection to a trusted supplier of seeds and fertilizer
- Access to cultivation best practices (land preparation, soil testing, best seeds and fertilizers, etc.)
- The benefits of aggregation, which drove better bargains
- Reduced fertilizer, pesticide, labour, and other costs, thanks to higher-quality seeds and improved processes based on best-practice information
E-agriculture has reduced the work load on most extension officers as they wouldn’t necessarily need to return to their labs or various source of information/remedy before giving the farmers the solution to their problems. It has made available:
- Direct access to otherwise unreachable farmers
- The ability to test and validate academic research and innovation in real world applications
- The opportunity to solve practical problems and share best practices with aggregated groups of farmers
E-agriculture has proved very essential to the various processors in the agricultural sector. Their work has been made easier and more convenient. This project has created the:
- Ability to directly and cost-effectively manufacture produce in bulk
- Ability to optimize market efficiency by connecting buyers and sellers
- Direct, inexpensive, and transparent access to larger groups of farmers
- Better forecasting for greater efficiency and fewer losses
- Stronger relationships with farmers and Technology companies
- New business opportunities using a proven model that increases readiness for technology adoption
- Ability to reach new customer base early, for longer-term benefits
- Opportunity to achieve business and social benefits by increasing access to technology
THE GENERAL PUBLIC
The general public has directly and indirectly been impacted by e-agriculture. The various sources of information aren’t just limited to farmers but also anyone who needs any form of information about agriculture. Whether it’s about starting a farm, taking care of their pets, purchasing of agro-products, etc. the enquiries can be made without any problem, thanks to this project.
Submitted by Yussif Abubakar ICT Unit, MoFA