Stakeholders in the technology and agriculture sector have called for the establishment of a reliable national database to collate relevant information on the agriculture sector to ensure information flow.
They said the lack of reliable data was a barrier to high productivity in the agriculture sector as players including farmers, input dealers, aggregators and investors struggled to access adequate and relevant information to plan as well as direct their activities and investments.
These concerns came up at a panel discussion led by Farmerline, a Ghanaian agritech company, at the on-going 2020 Virtual Tech in Ghana Conference in Accra.
It was on the topic: "The Power of Collaboration in AgriTech.
" The panellists were unanimous in their position that the creation of a reliable database had become increasingly necessary, especially at a time when technology and data were changing and influencing the nature of agricultural business development and global food policy decisions.
To achieve that goal, they called for collaboration between policymakers, agritech companies and relevant stakeholders to develop home-grown data collection and analytical tools to facilitate the collection of data at the local, regional, and national levels.
Mr Worlali Senyo, a Senior Consultant for Corporate Services at Farmerline, said the difficulty in accessing reliable data did not only affect farmers in making critical decisions but also affected investments in the sector as it was sometimes difficult to monitor growth and progress.
"I think this is a big problem and it is something that we at Farmerline are pushing very much to work with governments across the continent to create some sort of an open repository where we can easily identify who a farmer is and across programmes.
and there will be that database stakeholders can rely on to improve their activities and services," he said.
Mr Senyo said Farmerline had the expertise to develop a wide range of affordable and sustainable products to drive the digitisation of the agriculture sector in a manner that was aligned with global best practices.
"At Farmerline, we are helping to train farmers to change their behaviour and adopt better practices that will enable them to increase productivity and also secure other opportunities such as accessing finance or credit and other essential inputs," he said.
Mr Eric Nesta Quarshie, the Business Development Manager of OCP Africa Ghana, corroborated the stance that the absence of reliable data posed challenges to farmers, expressing concern about the extent to which the unavailability of reliable weather data was affecting the yields of smallholder farmers who largely relied on rainfall.
"Digitising data is essential, but we should also take into consideration the affordability of the tool such that it is easy for everyone to procure, analyse and make meaningful decisions out of it," he added.
Ms Melanie Bannister-Tyrrel, an Australian-based epidemiologist, said as part of efforts to enhance pest and disease control in Ghana, her outfit had collaborated with Farmerline to develop a system that enables farmers to receive instant information on pest and disease control and other vital services by simply dialling a short-code.
On the issue of post-harvest losses, the discussants called for the establishment of adequate storage facilities, improving access to markets, usage of quality farming materials, investing in research, and educating farmers to adopt best practices among other things as a panacea to the problem.
They suggested the continuous collaboration between all stakeholders in the sector to address the challenges identified to get the agriculture sector up and running at an optimum level.