Moving from the Rhetoric IN DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION
Digital technologies in agriculture have huge potential in changing the current information deficit in Ghana’s agricultural sector. Relevant data to assess our prevailing food stock and warehousing capacities; smallholder and commercial market-oriented production levels; and addressable market access gaps, is needed now more than anytime in our history.
Digital technologies in agriculture in Ghana could be leveraged to boost efficiencies and overcome farm to fork fragmentation in our sector which has rural smallholder farming dominance.
Ghana’s agricultural sector is challenged with unproven and poorly designed digital traceability products. The quality of data captured on farmers and rural farms is siloed and most do not adhere to data interoperability and protection standards in their use-cases. Digital tools for food safety detection struggle to meet Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) quality checks, thus citizens are unsure which available digital tools are approved for use. Open data availability remains conference topics and close to irrelevance without addressing cost of data acquisition and maintenance by service providers and tech startups.
Ghana’s agricultural sector could be leapfrogged with adoption and utilisation of a range of digital solutions for agriculture without recourse to single-source procurement. Procurement irregularities have already dwarfed Ghana’s agricultural e-extension platform development phases over the past decade. Unfortunately these e-extension and e-agriculture platforms were financed by many development institutions in Ghana overseen by the State agency in charge of agriculture but sustained impact is weak. A Public Private Partnership (PPP) contracting option should be explored and adopted-this might be more efficient and provides value for money.
Competitively sourced digital tools could strengthen rural farmers’ resilience to climate change, open up sustained information relay between value chain actors and boost Ghana’s rural economy. Additionally, competitively sourced digital technologies in Ghana could lead to availability of quality agricultural information on better food safety and enhance productivity in agricultural systems.
With advancement in mobile connectivity in Ghana, network infrastructural limitation is reducing and the need for competitive internet access cost and pricing of other digital products and services for agriculture is urgently needed now!