African governments have been urged to invest more in digital climate-smart solutions to support smallholder farmers to scale up their production as climate challenges raged on.
According to experts in climate adaptation, techniques, including communication and information systems, would improve agricultural production and marketing in Africa.
Speaking at the opening of a two-day training on Digital Climate Advisory Services in West Africa in Accra on Thursday, they said the reliance on rain-fed agriculture in Africa was not sustainable.
The experts are Programme Lead, Food Security and Rural Wellbeing, Global Centre on Adaptation (GCA), Dr Oluyede Ajayi, and Senior Technical Cluster Leader and Innovations Systems Specialist, Forum for Agriculture Research Africa (FARA), Professor Wole Fantunbi.
Organised by the GCA under the framework of the FARA, the training inteds to build the capacities of stakeholders in the region to implement digital climate adaptation solutions for farmers.
It is being held on the back of harsh weather conditions, including droughts, floods, and windstorms, which have affected the rain-fed agricultural system triggering food security issues.
Dr Ajayi said despite the existence of many climate-smart techniques, farmers were not leveraging them because those interventions had not been introduced to them.
He said digital tools such as climate information and advisory services could provide early warning systems to farmers to enable them plan their activities.
Dr Ajayi said there were digital platforms that could also support farmers to get access to markets readily after harvesting to help reduce post-harvest losses.
“These are tools that can give farmers information in real time for them to be able to make an informed decision in their farm operations. For example, the tools can inform farmers that in the next three days, it is going to be raining heavily and in that case the farmers would not need to apply so much fertiliser,” he said.
Prof. Fantunbi said until the continent embraced digital climate solutions, smallholder farmers in the region would continue to be at the mercy of the weather.
For Ms Eyerusalem Fasika, improved seeds would be critical to meeting Africa’s food demand. Farmers would need additional new tools to boost yields and get their goods to the market.
She said digital climate-smart technologies provide efficiency and support scaling of interventions and could increase productivity by between 40 to 70 per cent.
For his part, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Food, Agriculture, and Cocoa Affairs, Mr John Osei Frimpong, said farmers were experiencing a gap in yields due to their inability to access advanced technologies.
“We must all put the right mechanisms in place to ensure that the investment (in technology) is quickly translated into measurable development outcomes even in their short run,” he said.
BY JONATHAN DONKOR