The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), has called for the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to enhance value chain in agriculture production in Ghana.

Ms Pearl Coleman Ackah, the Private Sector Advisor/Outreach Director, USAID Ghana, said the goal of the Agency’s Agricultural Value Chain Enhancement Programme in Ghana was to increase maize, rice and soybean competitiveness through increased productivity and access to market and trade.

She said Advance One of the programme targets 36,000 smallholder farmers, while Advance Two targets 113,000 smallholder farmers.

Ms Ackah in her presentation at the ongoing 68th Annual New Year School and Conference at the University of Ghana said digital opportunities across agriculture value chain helped farmers tighten relationship with buyers and processors; and to adapt to climate change.

She noted that ICT enabled extension officers to reach more farmers, provide timely reminders/alerts, and empowers them to use behaviour change media to convince farmers to change.

Speaking on the topic: “Strengthening the Agricultural Value Chain through ICTs,” Ms Ackah said farmers needed information on market prices to negotiate better.

Ms Ackah said farmers could get better prices by consolidating sales.

She said the main activities with farmers and along the value chains include training and mentorship, demonstration farms, business relationship set up and reinforcements.

She said study showed that Esoko Ghana indicated that all farmers on the programme, which involved the use of mobile telephony to provide information, had eight to nine per cent price increase of their product sales.

Ms Ackah said constraints to the use of ICT in the Agricultural Value Chain programmes were literacy and cost of installation of communication equipment.

She said the Agency was considering to ensure the scalability of Voice Call Centre example Esoko.

The 68th Annual New Year School and Conference is on the theme “Promoting National Development through Agriculture Modernisation: The Role of ICT.”

The aim of the School and Conference is to create the form for passionate discussions on how ICT could be integrated into agriculture, to modernise the sector for sustainable national development.

It is being organised by the School of Continuing and Distance Education, University of Ghana, under the auspices of the MTN, Eximbank Ghana, and The Kosmos Innovation Centre.

Source: GNA

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