In this guest blog post from Farming First, Vanessa Mukhebi of Mediae – the production company behind agricultural reality TV shows Shamba Shape Up and Don’t Lose the Plot – discusses the digital innovations helping farmers with agronomic and budgeting challenges. By harnessing the digital boom, she argues that more African youth can be enticed into agricultural careers.
It is often said that youth carry the potential to transform agricultural productivity and contribute to global food security for a booming population that is set to increase by two billion by 2050. However, debating the future of farming and rural development is pointless without the willingness of the youth themselves to engage in the sector. This potential can only be realised through an image overhaul of farming.
Yet several solutions to this challenge exist right in their back pockets.
The drawback of farming-related careers in preference for white collared employment in urban areas, is partly on account of the societal prejudices and misconceptions held about such careers, as well as the limited knowledge about the opportunities available in agricultural industry that are economically prosperous.
Fortunately, through rapid advancement in information and communication technologies, and increased access to the internet through mobile devices, agriculture in the developing world has become a vibrant field full of effective and creative innovations.
And with young people already predisposed to this digital revolution, these solutions provide unparalleled access to information to help them take advantage of the exciting opportunities within the industry.
In countries like Kenya, where overstretched extension services are unable to adequately support producers, mobile solutions such as iShamba, offer the ability to disseminate timely and relevant information regarding production, input supplies, weather updates and market price information.
Additionally, the farmer information and advisory service is equipped with a call centre staffed with agricultural experts, where farmers can SMS or call to get instant advice seven days a week.