07 June 2021, Kenya: The African Centre for Women, Information and Communications Technology (ACWICT) and CABI have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that will enable both organisations to jointly work towards enhancing access and use of digital resources by women and young farmers to enable sustainable agricultural production and food security. This comes against the backdrop of emerging synergies from the Digital Agriculture for Accelerated and Inclusive Post COVID-19 Economic Recovery efforts in Laikipia County, Kenya. The digital access programme was funded by the UK Government and jointly implemented by in-country partners.
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The youth play a pivotal role in agriculture and rural transformation. One of the findings in a book recently published by CABI titled Youth and the Rural Economy in Africa, recommends a targeted technology promotion aimed at young people, most of whom are ‘digital natives’. These youth can catalyse the realisation of digital agriculture in Sub Saharan Africa (SSA) due to their innovativeness and fast adoption of new technologies. In Kenya for example, digitisation and ICT use is a key driver for economic development within the agricultural sector.
Digital innovations have eased trading barriers in certain value chains by providing trade platforms that directly connect farmers to traders enabling them to get competitive returns on their yields. A recent study highlighted innovative value chain financing approaches for youth engagement in agribusiness via interventions that integrate modern technology and ICTs.
Access and use of agricultural content through user friendly digital platforms is another facet that both organisations draw synergies from and are currently deliberating joint initiatives. The ACWICT-led Maudhui Digiti (Digital Content) project, for example, recently assessed the access and use of digital content, including evaluating opportunities for employment in the digital sphere for farmers, particularly the underserved agricultural communities and organizations in Laikipia County. This is an area where CABI’s vast expertise in creating knowledge portals, gender-sensitive, farmer facing agricultural content will add value.
Henry Mibei, Digital Development Manager at CABI said, “The ACWICT and CABI partnership brings to the fore each organization’s core unique skills and experiences to achieve impact in the Kenyan agricultural digital landscape at the field level. It is expected that this collaboration will facilitate access for the smallholder farmer to key information through user friendly digital platforms, such as the CABI BioProtection Portal and ACWICT Bundled service platform, and will influence rural farming families to integrate digital tools in their production activities”.
“In the immediate future, both organisations will enhance digital literacy for farmers and the youth, including joint exploration of prospects that will enhance access to relevant, gender-sensitive digital content. This will include opportunities to develop relevant digital agricultural content aligned to the priority information needs identified as farmers’ pain points for inclusion in the ACWICT bundled service agricultural platform, added Constantine O. Obuya, Executive Director at ACWICT.
ACWICT is a Kenya-based ICT for Development (ICT 4D) Organization, with a regional reach whose mission is to promote women and youth access to and knowledge of ICTs as tools for sustainable development with a focus on high potential but disadvantaged women and youth, providing solutions that improve their access to employment, education, health and leadership opportunities for better livelihoods.