In advent of developing technologies to unlock the potentials for agriculture in Africa, a report on agriculture technology has called for the development of specific financial products for investment in the sector.
At the launch of the report organized by Restless Development in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, 14 youth researchers presented findings from Building Inclusive Agricultural Technologies for Young People, the report highlights barriers and opportunities to the creation of agricultural technologies, their promotion, and uptake by young people.
The 2017-18 Youth Think Tank report identifies that, the reach of existing financial products is limited and where available, for instance, microfinance, are not tailored to the needs of young innovators and adopters.
These young innovators require financial products that accommodate the risk associated with innovation, acknowledging that failure is part of the design process. They need financial products for every part of innovation process, from ideation to prototyping and piloting, to roll-out.
In the case of young adopters, the report suggests that, financing should reflect the cost of investment in agriculture technologies, and repayment periods that better reflect agricultural seasons.
It further called for government and financial institutions’ need to examine how they provide financial products and determine how they can be more creative in responding to these specific needs.
Among the key findings, the report also identified that young people have unaddressed gaps in the skills required to operate agricultural technologies.
It advises policymakers, practitioners, and those in the private sector of the need to do more to support young innovators.
“When young innovators described how they developed their technologies, the lack of access to information, resources, expertise, skill development, and tools for prototyping were prominent in their stories. Collaborative teamwork across a range of expertise also emerges as prominent in co-designing solutions.”
However, there are few innovation spaces that combine all the above and even fewer that are broadly accessible to all young people.
Those promoting agricultural technologies – promoters – need to build awareness of them through the channels that young people use most.
According to the report, “many promoters use social media, TV, and other high-tech communications channels to showcase technologies. But most of the young people we spoke with took up technologies when they heard about them directly through their local, informal social networks — through their friends, families, and those in their communities.”
To building awareness is not enough.
Promoters also need to ensure young people have the skills to effectively take up these technologies.
Young respondents explained that offline technologies require basic mechanical operation and repair skills, and digital technologies require knowledge of how to operate high-tech devices and use online resources.
By Joshua W. Amlanu