We need new technologies, plead Senegal farmers

By Issa Sikiti da Silva, in Dakar, Senegal

A Switzerland-based non-profit organisation, ICVolunteers, said in its 2012 AgriGuide E-TIC Sahel Infohubs Senegal and Mali that one of the constraints facing African farmers in adopting sustainable agriculture and organic agriculture is the low education level coupled with lack of financial resources.

“Many of us did not attend formal school. And our knowledge of farming is seriously outdated. The people of overseas must help us with new, modern technologies to adopt new farming methods. We need some sort of consistency in what we are doing because we are no longer sustainable,” small scale farmer Seydina Mbengue told Biztechafrica.

Another farmer, Oumar Samb, pleaded: “We desperately need help. Year after year, we are struggling with the same old techniques that are giving us the old same results, and making us poorer and hungrier.”

ICV said education was a key message to developing sustainable agriculture.

For many uneducated African farmers, computers represent the whole symbol of ICTs, so Mbengue wondered without knowing the depth of what he was calling for. “Why the use of computers in farming is slow to take off in Africa?” he asked.

For ICV, the development of ICTs will help adapt to the needs of farmers, herders and fishermen – taking into account their degree of literacy and their oral tradition.

The use of ICT in agriculture and rural development will make a significant contribution towards reducing poverty and malnutrition on the continent, according to Blessing Mukabeta Maumbe, of the Eastern Kentucky University in the US.

Therefore, Maumbe added, the use of ICT to promote agricultural development in sub-Saharan Africa offers tremendous socio-economic benefits and new opportunities to transform the livelihoods of poor agricultural communities and society in general.

Maumbe listed the following benefits that are expected to result from the use of ICTs in agriculture:

  • Food security arising from productivity gains in crop and livestock enterprises
  • Better access to national and global agricultural markets
  • Improvements in rural financial service delivery
  • Reduction in transaction costs, faster communication methods, e-health services for farmers and
  • The provision of accurate, reliable, and timely information for farm household decision-making

The AgrICulTural Initiative implemented in Mali and Senegal in 2009-2010 by the ICV has left a legacy of ICT-minded farmers, herders and fishermen in both countries. The 18-month project’s first phase aimed specifically, among others, at:

  • Developing training in ICT to help improve farming, husbandry and fishing practices
  • Promoting better pastoral management and sanitary conditions
  • Promoting the adoption of sustainable husbandry practices by making farmers aware of their responsibilities (awareness of agricultural methods which respect the environment and biodiversity)

ICV also believes that this will help provide a model for farming and rearing livestock in the targeted area.

ICV said in a knowledge-based agriculture, farmers needed to know how:

  • Analyse, plan and implement sustainable farming
  • Increase resource efficiency and to secure agricultural production and productivity
  • Improve resilience of the production system
  • Improve the value of their food and cash products
  • Become more competitive in the market
  • Be resilient to economic crises and financial turmoil
  • Raise income and improve their food security at household level


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