The African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) is considered the world’s most important and impactful forum for African agriculture, pulling together stakeholders in the agricultural landscape to take practical actions and share lessons that will move African agriculture forward.
Since we were in Kigali when the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) 2018 themed LEAD, MEASURE AND GROW was held, we decided to participate in the event so we could learn more and network.
One of the sessions held was called ICT Innovation for agriculture which included a competition called “Agrihack”. Agrihack is a competition that challenges youths in ICT to use technology in solving agricultural problems. There are lots of young people using technology to solve problems in agriculture but it saddened us that bulk of them don’t get close to the farmers to have the full understanding of the problems they are solving. Until scientists, technologist, and ICT gurus feel the pains of rural farmers, they might just as well be answering questions rural farmers never asked. Farmers face real challenges and climate change stands at the front line of them all. The effect of climate change is felt in different ways and there can be ways to mitigate these problems in ICT.
Through another session named Farmers Lead Irrigation we were able to understand that what farmers need is water and not rain. Although, rain is one of the sources of water, but if the streams and rivers in the local communities are sustainably managed there will be water for the farmer to practise all year round planting. We therefore concluded that middle age technology should be brought back and encouraged to boost water availability for farmers. In our own project, we are making use of thread pump, rain hose, borehole and streams to ensure water availability for farmers.
We participated in the Soil Health and Soil Fertility Session where Soil scientists and stakeholders around the world gathered to discuss the way forward on soil health. It was however shocking that the whole discussion ended on the use of synthetic fertilizer but we were able to make contributions on the benefits of Agroforestry in growing healthy foods.
We also participated in the Youth Town Hall Meeting organised by Strive Masiya. In attendance were prime minister of Rwanda, Strive Masiya and some other top policy makers across the African continent, all in the bid to encourage youths to see agribusiness as an employment opportunity. In our own contribution, we made it known to the house that there is a broken link that needs to be mended across Africa. Young ones have to see Agriculture as a business and not a form of punishment as shown in primary schools business and not punishment. If youths must truly embrace agriculture, perception change project is highly needed.
In a session tagged Engaging youths in rural community by FARA and Bonn University, we shared our concept on how we are creating a rural co-working space between rural farmers and unemployed youths in the rural communities for healthy food production.
During the start-up session, how to support stronger engagement of women entrepreneurs and innovators in Agriculture, experts from various fields and companies spoke about how women experienced setbacks in their finance as a result of overburdened domestic responsibilities that causes lack of time and reduced mobility for most women. In rural areas, we discussed about how women are held by traditional rules which debar them from having crucial resources such as land, access to loan and financial literacy. These shortcomings are responsible for why most women are not able to engage in certain businesses and sales.
The members of the plenary session shared their experiences of how women have been marginalized in different ways especially in building businesses and gaining streams of income. The discuss also placed emphasis on how the woman entrepreneur is able to give a 100% return of impact if supported with loans and other financial resources as regards her male counterparts.
New ways was shared on how to support women on a stronger engagement in Agriculture such as sensitizing men and enlisting them as advocate for participation of more women in innovation and support for building businesses. It was urged also that companies and financial institutions should create a more gender friendly and conducive environment for women entrepreneur to thrive.
As part of our gender inclusion plan, we are starting a table banking form of cooperative for the women and their husbands then grow it to a level where we can begin to ask for loans from financial institution. We believe that the lives of a women entrepreneurs starting from the rural space will be improved.