Rwanda pins hope on ICT for agricultural, economic growth

Smallholder farming, which is the backbone of many African economies, is set to be transformed by a combination of investment and greater access to information and communication technology, particularly mobile phones.

10705216956 1764760f60 c-300x225

Michael Hailu, Director of the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation
Photo by: CTA

The claim was made today by Michael Hailu, Director of the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) at ICT4Ag, a major conference on ICTs in agriculture.

“On this continent, 65 per cent of the workforce is employed in agriculture and the sector generates 32 percent of GDP. Smallholder farmers, mostly women, produce 80 per cent of Africa’s food. African countries spend up to US$ 50 billion a year on food imports. With abundant land, water and cheap labour, there is no good reason why Africa should import so much food.

“Yet there’s good reason to be optimistic. After years of neglect, governments and the private sector are increasing investments in agriculture. Nevertheless, to achieve its full potential, smallholder agriculture must be transformed from a subsistence activity to a profitable, sustainable business. ICTs play a vital role in this transformation. They provide timely advice and information. They help farmers increase productivity. They make markets more efficient. And they increase incomes along the value chain”.

Rwanda – sowing seeds of innovation in agriculture

Agriculture has been identified by governments across Africa as a sector of rising importance. In Rwanda, 80% of the country’s workforce is involved with the sector. For that reason – and to forge partnerships and foster innovation between ICT and agriculture, the ICT4Ag Conference has been organised and is underway in the Rwandan Capital of Kigali.


Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Youth and ICT Rosemary Mbabazi

Rwanda: ‘govt doing all it can’ to improve ICT literacy

During the ICT4Ag Summit being held in Kigali, Rwanda, the Country’s Minister of Agriculture was asked how citizens in rural areas are to benefit from ICT development if their ICT literacy is very low.


Rwandan Minister of Agriculture Dr. Agnes Kalibata

The Minister, Dr. Agnes Kalibata, explained that there are other channels in place for those citizens to still receive information.

Kenya: mobile helping farmers monitor markets

With agriculture and technology high on the agenda this week in Africa, underpinned by the ICT4Ag Summit being hosted in Kigali, Rwanda, there are reports of how technology is making a radical difference to the lives of farmers in key regions.

shutterstock 125483342-300x225

Farmers in Kenya are using mobile solutions to keep track of market trends.
Photo by: Image source:

Video has biggest impact in ICT deployment for Bungoma farmers

iicd-farmers-video article full

Farmers attending a community video session on Agriculture in Nyanza,Kenya,funded by Connect for Change. A similar project in Bungoma, Kenya, found that video had the highest impact on farmers compared to mobile and PCs.

When it comes to Information and Communication tools and media, video has proved to be of the greatest impact to a group of farmers in Cheptais, Bungoma County, Western Kenya. Gerishom Boiyo, ICT officer at the ACK Western Region Christian Community Services (affiliated with the Anglican Church of Kenya) says that they have been working with farmers for a while, but only started introducing ICTs in 2011. He was presenting at the ongoing ICT in Agriculture conference in Kigali, in a session on wholesome adoption of ICT in agriculture as compared to mobile only use of IT in agriculture.

ICT – all that is between Rwanda and value-added agriculture

Approximately 65% of Africa’s workforce is involved in agriculture and the sector makes up 62% of the continent’s GDP, so there is a good reason to be optimistic about the future. So said Michael Hailu, director of CTA (Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Cooperation), at the ICT4Ag Conference being held in Kigali, Rwanda.


Michael Hailu, director of CTA at the ICT4Ag conference in Kigali, Rwanda
Photo by: image: Charlie Fripp

SMS service provides extra bargaining power to local farmers

The “mFarmer SMS” service provides Ugandan farmers with weather reports and up-to-date market information. It facilitates communication between producers, buyers, processors and service providers.

The market town of Nakaseke lies 75 kilometres north of Uganda’s capital, Kampala. It is old-fashioned and rural, part of the ancient kingdom of Buganda. Farming is the main economic activity in the surrounding district and crops include coffee, maize, fruit and vegetables. Nakaseke is also the site of one of Uganda’s six innovative Community Multimedia Centres (CMCs).

ICT joins the fight against fraud in agriculture

Fake agricultural inputs are causing food insecurity and making farmers poorer, say experts. Counterfeit 'agro inputs' are a huge problem in the developing world, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. They affect germination and crop health, often putting lives at risk. Now, however, the innovative use of ICT offers new hope in the fight against this illicit industry.

"Farmers are losing millions because of fake inputs which affect productivity," says Bruce Kisitu, the Ugandan co-ordinator of a project to combat counterfeiting. "This leads to poor quality produce, the inability for farmers to access competitive markets, and eventually food insecurity. Counterfeiting keeps smallholders in the vicious circle of poverty."

ICT for Agriculture conference highlights IT impact in farming

In Rwanda, Agriculture is the main employer, employing more than 80 percent of the population. The sector is of similar importance across many African countries, been the main or among the main employers. Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) Executive Director, Michael Hailu, says the sector has suffered from years of neglect from investors, but now this is no longer the case.

michael-hailu-cta article full

The attention from investors coupled with increased access to ICT across the region is now seeing the emergence of technology based solutions attempting to solve problems that have plagued the sector for years.

ICT4ag13: ICT can help youth return to farms, solve Africa's agricultural challenges

The Opening Panel at the 2013 ICT for Agriculture Conference.

Agriculture is being seen as key to solving  issues plaguing Agriculture such as youth deserting the sector and low output
The ICT for Agriculture 2013(ICT4ag13) conference officially opened on Tuesday in Kigali, Rwanda. The conference looks at ways in which technology can provide solutions to problems plaguing the agriculture sector in addition to making farming more efficient. Organised by Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), ICT4ag13 focuses on Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific.
Speaking at the opening, CTA Executive Director, Michael Hailu, says that agriculture in Africa employs 65 percent of the labour force and contributes to 62 percent of the gross domestic product. The sector has however faced issues including low productivity, high energy needed in production, poor or hardly available extension services and high input prices.

ICT4ag2013: Open Data Kit automates data collection for research

absolomon-kihara-ilri article full

Absolomon presents Open Data Kit which ILRI is using for automated data collection.


The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) has moved from collecting its research information on paper to collecting the same through smartphones. The research institute utilises the Open Data Kit, which is a tool developed by, Google’s not-for-profit arm.