The fifth Industry – Accademia Tech Dialogue (INDAC-TED) has called on the youth to use ICT as a transformative tool for agriculture in Ghana.
The dialogue is an annual event of the institute of ICT Professionals Ghana (IIPGH) and was this year held at the Ho Technical University on the theme: “Exploring Agritech Opportunities for Employment.”
Gordon Niikoi Kotey, Senior Business Advisor of Esoko, a leading IT in Agric organisation in Africa, and who was the guest speaker, said ICT’s ergonomic and precision assistance to agriculture remained unmatched, and should be considered within efforts to secure increased year-round cropping.
He said the flexibility of ICT enabled engineers to design technology to fit almost all needs and applications, adding that young minds were being sought in innovating the way to zero-risk agriculture.
The business advisor said students should sharpen their computer engineering prowess and join the AgriTech revolution with untapped innovations.
He noted how autonomous technology, including drones, continued to push the edge of possibilities for ICT application in agriculture, and said artificial intelligence-based precision agriculture was being considered the gateway to sustainable food production amid the threats of climate change.
Mr. Kotey called for more collaboration between the ICT and the agriculture sector towards exploration of the opportunities, and said through the efforts over the years, a significant number of successful AgriTech platforms had been developed, and should encourage new minds to join the race.
He noted the availability of IT infrastructure, which span the ever-evolving social media, USSD, and computer programming wares.
Mr. Kotey said stakeholders were hopeful computer aided farming would attract the youth, and urged them to consider the prospects of artificial intelligence in pinpoint analysis, and unbiased execution.
The Dialogue brought together ICT professionals, students, faculty, farmers and other players along the agro value chain.
Dr. Ernest Teye, a Senior Lecturer and researcher at the Department of Agricultural Engineering of the University of Cape Coast, said food integrity remained a major challenge in the agro sector that a ripe area tech-agro collaboration could focus on.
He said the Department had successfully developed and tested infrared-based spectroscopy technologies that detected fake rice and adulterated edible oils, while tech had also been produced to determine the freshness of eggs.
Dr. Teye said a fertilizer integrity system was also being developed to help address the fake agro-chemical trade which was currently affecting farmers, and said student innovators would be needed in closing the gap to the technology.
He said expanded technology could help fight drug fraud, and solve challenges with the detection of toxins in the fish industry, such as DDT and formalin.
Darlington Akogo, CEO of KaraAgro AI, is a world-renowned tech scientist whose company and affiliates join the lead in artificial intelligence applications in the medical and agriculture industries.
He said tech was enabling ten times yield in farms across the globe, adding that young people would gain from the fun filled innovation opportunities available within agri-ICT collaboration.
He urged students to consider their individual passions in identifying problems within the space they could innovate solutions on, and commit to the cause of agricultural transformation.
Lily Edinam Bensah, a Lecturer at the Computer Science Department of the Ho Technical University, said there was the need to expose students to ground labour in agriculture to enable them appreciate and design appropriate technologies.
Stephen Debre, a value chain Manager at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, said collaboration between academia and industry would help the youth identify the opportunities that exist, and that inter-operation of programmes at the tertiary level and a holistic approach to youth enhancement within the AgriTech industry would also become necessary.
Martin Wilde, Strategic Advisor for AFOS Foundation, said bringing tech closer could improve productivity, expand market reach, and make the industry more profitable, and that the Foundation had been helping train IT professionals in the Country.
David Gown, Executive Director of the IIPGH, said the Institute had for the past five years, engaged ICT professionals, students, and other stakeholders.
He said more than 10,000 students, professional and stakeholders had been trained, and that the Institute employs both real and virtual platforms in expanding the reach of its activities, which includes a coding caravan that helps expose children in underserved communities to computer literacy.
Mr. Gowu said the Dialogue series focused on exploring tech jobs and opportunities, and also the enhancement of remote jobs, and hoped to bring closer its vision of enhanced opportunities for the youth.
Prof Ben Honyenuga, VC of the University, underscored the importance of AgriTech to job creation, and said stakeholders, including tertiary and training institutions should help sharpen focus on growing the opportunities.
By Samuel Akumatey, GNA