Speaker of Parliament, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, has highlighted the importance of innovation and technology in agriculture for Africa to realize its potential as a global food provider.
He conveyed this message during his address at the Convention and 30th anniversary celebration of the Council of Ewe Associations of North America (CEANA) in Atlanta, Georgia. The event was held under the theme “Empowering our youth towards innovative entrepreneurship in transformational agriculture.”
Speaker Bagbin highlighted the necessity of incorporating technologies like GPS, sensors, drones, and data analytics into agriculture practices. These technological tools, he explained, could optimize resource utilization, monitor crop health, and enhance crop yields.
Furthermore, embracing technology in agriculture would empower the younger generation involved in farming by providing them with access to reliable data, enabling informed decision-making, minimizing wastage, and boosting overall efficiency.
Speaker Bagbin stressed that today’s youth are highly proficient in technology, making traditional farming methods less appealing to them. Therefore, integrating innovative technology into agriculture is vital to engage and motivate the younger generation to participate in this critical sector.
“If governments direct resources into modernising agriculture and infuse technology into farm practices, more youth will opt for the sector. This will address the challenges of feeding a global population sustainably, create economic opportunities for rural communities and transform how we produce, distribute, and consume food,” he said.
The Speaker underscored the need for agricultural innovation aimed at addressing long-standing issues in the sector, including waste reduction and the challenges associated with seasonal fluctuations in farm produce. He emphasized the importance of reimagining how surplus crops are managed, particularly during periods of oversupply when prices plummet and produce is left to rot, followed by periods of scarcity.
To address these challenges, the Speaker advocated for innovative approaches to managing post-harvest losses and supporting agro-businesses to mitigate these losses effectively. He suggested that the marketing of agricultural products should also undergo innovation, thereby bolstering local economies in Africa, reducing food transportation distances, and optimizing the efficiency of the food supply chain. This would enable youth farmers to generate higher returns on their investments and reinvest in their agricultural endeavors.
To attract young people to agriculture, the Speaker called for the implementation of policies promoting secure land tenure and access for the youth. These policies could encompass initiatives such as land redistribution, leasing programs, and support for communal land ownership. Additionally, he stressed the importance of actively involving women, indigenous communities, and rural youth in the agricultural sector.
Furthermore, the Speaker urged financial institutions in Africa to facilitate access to financing for young farmers. This could involve offering low-interest loans, grants, and subsidies to assist young individuals in investing in equipment and seeds, among other necessities. He explained that empowering youth in agriculture necessitates a comprehensive approach addressing modernization of agriculture, education, resource access, policy support, and cultural attitudes.
In closing, the Speaker, also known as Torgbui Nuterperwola Awudome I, extended congratulations to CEANA, an organization uniting Ewe communities from Ghana, Togo, and Niger in North America, on its 30th anniversary. He commended the association for its resilience, perseverance, and hard work that have sustained it over the past three decades, emphasizing that these achievements should not be taken lightly.
He spoke about the coincidence of CEANA, Ghana’s parliament and himself celebrating 30 years and said “I know what it takes to be doing the same thing for 30 years, and striving to be better each year than you were in the previous one”.
He was impressed by CEANA’s commitment to improve upon farm practices and develop the Ewe communities in the three countries and said “It portrays an association of people who are altruistic, driven by the desire to make an impact on the current and future generations”.
The Speaker was joined by his spouse, Ms. Alice Adjua Yornas, as well as several distinguished members of parliament, including Hon. Emmanuel Bedzrah, representing Ho West; Hon. Rockson Dafeamakpor, representing South Dayi; Hon. Dela Sowah, representing Kpando; Hon. Joycelyn Tetteh, representing North Dayi; and Hon. Kofi Attor, former MP for Ho Central. Additionally, Mr. Speaker was accompanied by his Special Aide, Mr. Gayheart Mensah, who serves as the Speaker’s Communication Expert.