[Column] Bob Koigi: Cultivating the Facebook farming revolution to grow African economies
In less than a decade, Africa ICT sector has experienced an unprecedented boom that has caught the world’s attention.
The young people have been at the driving seat of this renaissance that has transformed every facet of the economy while living true to the maxim ‘finding homegrown solutions to local problems.’
From e commerce to telemedicine and an array of life changing apps, the youthful population has chaperoned transformative discoveries.
Agriculture has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of this tech revolution. From modern mobile applications, online shops and even electronic services, the sector is betting on the gains of technology to spur.
And now a growing number of urbane, suave and youthful generation is finding fortunes and better days in new age farming, and earning the moniker, Facebook farmers, a move that is inspiring the food security resolve in the continent.
Traditionally agriculture has to a large extent been synonymous with the rural poor and in some circles, christened as the practice of the paupers.
The danger with such assertions has been manifested in the ballooning population that has put pressure on food even as agricultural land dwindles. It has called for concerted, innovative and holistic approaches to the way we produce food.
This, especially at a time when researchers posit that Sub Saharan African countries like Kenya, are among those expected to experience an population explosion in coming years. We have to do things differently.
With women and youth being an integral constituency of any society, it is heartwarming to read how an increasing number of young people are dumping suits for overalls and gumboots, and getting their hands dirty.
But these Facebook farmers, are looking for innovative and modern ways of producing more with less, and this has been the clarion call to industry players to support them.
The disconnect between these transformative innovations and farmers access, scientists attribute, to lack of proper information channels and crop producers, especially small scale, farming from a point of no information. Across the board farmers have felt a dip in their harvests, occasioned by changing planting and harvesting seasons as changes in weather escalate.
Farmers have expressed insatiable appetite for information, aware that they needed to change their way of doing things if they are to boost farm productivity.
With the ever ballooning internet penetration and a commendable bridging of the digital divide across the continent, a gold mine presents itself. Majority of those who own the mobile devices are young people who are constantly relying on these gadgets to access information including agricultural.
This therefore mean that companies interested in tapping into the youth have to look at newer ways of reaching them if they are to have any impact at all.
The task moving forward is to ensure that food producers are farming from a point of information and have are accessing trusted sources of information at a time when a sea of information has proven misleading and counterproductive to majority of the smallholder farmers.
This is very key if Africa is to help its smallholder farmers, who form the bulk of food producers, improve yields and match the demands for food.
Multiple award winning Kenyan journalist Bob Koigi is the Chief Editor of East Africa at Africa Business Communities