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5th Industry-Academia Tech Dialogue with Ho Technical University

Theme: Exploring Agritech Opportunities for Employment

Introduction

Agritech or technology deployment in Agriculture is another major area of employment if properly harnessed since Agriculture is the mainstay of the Ghanaian economy. It employs about 45 percent of the population and contributes to about 19.5 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP). Successive governments have rolled out several programs and policy initiatives aimed at improving agricultural production in the country. These include the Food and Agriculture Sector Development Policy (FASDEP), Ghana Agriculture Sector Investment Programme (GASIP), Ghana, Commercial Agriculture Project (GCAP), and the currently rolling out Planting for Food and Jobs Programme (PFJ). However, there are still several bottlenecks along the agriculture value chain because of unresolved perennial challenges.

Introducing digital technologies in the agricultural space is fast gaining currency among all major value-chain stakeholders. It is raising and renewing hope that, given the right investments and enabling policies, opportunities in the agriculture sector would be limitless. To bridge the gap between industry players and academia (lecturers and students), the Institute of ICT Professionals Ghana (IIPGH) in partnership with partners AFOS Foundation, Esoko, and Ho Technical University organized the 5th Industry-Academia Tech Dialogue (INDAC-TED) in the G.M. Afeti Auditorium of Ho Technical University for major agriculture value-chain stakeholders drawn from different locations on Thursday 25th August 2022.

 

The INDAC-TED Symposium

The 5th quarterly Industry-Academia symposium focused on how technology deployment in Agric is enhancing efficiency and creating jobs. This was organized slightly differently from previous INDAC-TED symposia. This event had a practical side attraction of an exhibition in the basement of the auditorium while the symposium took place in the main auditorium.

In his opening remarks, the Vice-Chancellor of Ho Technical University, Prof. Ben Q. Honyenuga indicated that the problem of youth unemployment is a major concern for many governments across the world, however, prospects and job opportunities in the Agric and allied fields are untapped and endless. “Agriculture in Ghana is the main backbone of the economy with a greater impact on poverty reduction and job creation than other sectors of the economy,” he added. The VC urged participants to embrace modern agriculture practices through collaboration, such as the industry-academia engagements, INDAC-TED.

Before the guest speaker’s presentation, the Executive Director of the Institute of ICT Professionals Ghana, Mr. David Gowu supported by Madam Juliet Nugble, a member of the Institute presented an overview of IIPGH. Mr. Gowu shared with participants the evolution of the INDAC-TED since its maiden edition at the Flexlab of the DigiCap project at the University of Cape Coast (UCC) in August 2021. “Every quarter since the first one in UCC, we organized the INDAC-TED symposium at Accra Technical University (ATU) in November 2021, Accra International Conference Centre (AICC) in February 2022, Academic City University College (ACity) in May 2022 and we are here at Ho Technical University in August 2022” he added with excitement. Madam Nugble also highlighted other capacity-building activities of the institute, such as the Tech Job fair, the Tech Entrepreneurs Forum, and the Coding Caravan, where emerging technology education such as coding is organized for students in deprived communities.

 

Guest Speaker’s Presentation

To set the tone for an in-depth conversation on how technology is being used to help smallholder and large-scale commercial farmers, the Senior Business Advisor of Esoko, Mr. Gordon Niikoi Kotey, delivered an insightful presentation. He shared light on the evolution of agriculture and technology convergence and showed the value additions with the introduction of technology in the agriculture value chain. His delivery focused on key areas in the agritech industry such as agronomic content, Agric Management platform, agricultural programs, and Project Deployment. “We need somebody who can use satellite to predict the weather. In predicting the weather, we need the Agric person to interpret the weather to a farmer growing a particular crop. In that process, we are creating jobs for the IT guy predicting the weather and the agriculturist.” Mr. Niikoi Kotey explained.

Guest Speaker, Mr. Gordon Niikoi Kotey, Senior Business Advisor, Esoko

To have the perspective of academia, especially some research on the topic under discussion, a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Agricultural Engineering, University of Cape Coast, Prof. Ernest Teye, a noble Scientist in Agri-food Science and Engineering presented his research findings on food fraud. He revealed that through research; they have been able to determine the freshness of eggs from 1 to 21 days through mobile phone-assisted technology. He showed the results of some food fraud research and how they can be curbed.

DigiCap Representative

Martin Wilde, DigiCap Project Advisor, added that the Agric sector in Ghana has greater potential, and requires that Agric should not only focus on training people to become farmers but must have entrepreneurship goals bringing ICT solutions and services closer to the chain to increase productivity and reach new markets, making the Agric sector more profitable.

Martin Wilde, DigiCap Project Advisor

 

Panel Discussion

As the program is an Industry-Academia dialogue, this session gets the views of experts from different backgrounds in the industry to comment on the topic under discussion. In addition, get the participants to ask questions or contribute to the discussion. The Agritech panel discussion had three (3) experts, namely Madam Lily Bansah, Lecturer, Computer Science Department, Ho Technical University; Mr. Stephen Debre, Value-Chain Manager, GASIP, Ministry of Food & Agriculture; and Mr. Darlington Akogo, CEO KaraAgro AI, joined the guest speaker on stage for the dialogue.

Mr. Stephen Debre, Value-Chain Manager, GASIP, Ministry of Food & Agriculture; Madam Lily Bansah, Lecturer, Computer Science Department, Ho Technical University; Mr. Darlington Akogo, CEO KaraAgro AI; Mr. Gordon Niikoi Kotey, Senior Business Advisor of Esoko.

 

Agritech Exhibition

After the closing remarks of the symposium, all the participants moved to the basement of G.M. Afeti Auditorium, where 30 exhibitors of various agricultural products and services set up their stands. Some exhibitors were: Lifestyle Farms & Agro Investments Limited; Ziavitutui Beverage and Co Ltd; Grow For Me; WorldTech; GainMate; Computer Science, Agric, and Food Science departments of Ho Technical University.

The exhibitors were excited to be given the opportunity to showcase their products and services. They asked for more of such programs so they could interact with other stakeholders for knowledge sharing and prospects.

Some exhibitors showing their products

 

The Outcome of Agritech INDAC-TED

The symposium achieved its primary objective of bringing experts together. This includes businesses that provide Agritech services, the Ministry of Food & Agriculture, Government officials, agribusiness enterprises, and academic institutions among others. The educational institutions, students, and professionals used the INDAC-TED platform to dialogue and share knowledge from research to industry insight. As members of the institute are across the country and some beyond the borders of Ghana, the symposium was organized in a hybrid mode; in-person participation and online connectivity via platforms Zoom and Facebook live broadcast.

Background of INDAC-TED Symposium

DigiCAP.gh is an Information and Communication Technology (ICT) project that supports INDAC-TED, under the Special Initiative on Training and Job Creation, funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through sequa gGmbH​, and implemented by AFOS, the German Foundation for Entrepreneurial Development Cooperation. As part of the project’s objectives, ICT-related capacity-building programs are organized in partnership with the Institute of ICT Professionals Ghana (IIPGH) and its partners from the ICT industry in Ghana and beyond. These programs target employment opportunities for young people and how to unlock sustainable jobs in relevant emerging technologies knowledge areas. Industry-Academia Tech Dialogue (INDAC-TED), a quarterly symposium, has become the platform to discuss issues of skills development and employment. To expand the conversation on job opportunities, Tech Job Fair (TJF2022), and Tech Entrepreneurs Forum (2022) were organized this year to highlight IT skills required for remote and onsite employment. INDAC-TED is mostly organized on the campus of a partner tertiary institution with support from industry partners.

 

Author: David Gowu–Executive Director, Institute of ICT Professionals, Ghana

For comments, contact david.gowu@iipgh.org or Mobile: +233242773762

 

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