CARE International Ghana in collaboration with BLUETOWN, a Non-governmental Organisation, has launched: â€œConnecting the unconnected,â€ project to support farmers to have access to digital information to enhance farming and boost the agricultural sector.
Access to information had largely been a major challenge facing local crop growers, hence the need for the project to ensure farmers were engaged in methods beneficial for increased yields.
The project, spearheaded by CARE International, seeks to promote digital transformation as an enabler for national development by innovating and piloting digital agricultural services for Ghanaian farmers to engage in sustainable and resilient production and improved market linkages.
Mrs Gifty Blekpe, the Assistant Country Director and Head of Programmes at CARE International said approaches to community mobilisation, resilience strengthening and livelihoods were combined with BLUETOWNâ€™s rural internet solution and digital content platform, local cloud.
She said the project spanning five years would use innovative technology to share digitized extension, business, market, and climate information with â€˜last-mileâ€™ smallholder farmers.
Speaking on the theme: â€œHarnessing digital solutions for agriculture transformation in Ghana,â€ Mrs Blekpe said CARE would also explore the promotion of entrepreneurial ICT-enabled agribusiness models for the youth.
Thus, the project would engage young digital entrepreneurs to support innovation within the space of digital agricultural services in and outside traditional agriculture.
â€œWe believe that there is a huge untapped potential for improving digital agricultural services in rural areas and will be inviting partners to help us explore and test this potential further in Ghana,â€ Mrs Blekpe added.
The project is in three phases with the first phase focusing on five pilot communities for cocoa farmers in the Bono and Ahafo Regions, while phase two would be for food crop farmers in the Upper East region.
The last phase would dwell on upscaling the project beyond the 10 pilot communities targeting, at least 5,500 farmers by the end of the five-year period, who can report increased yields and profits translated into improved living conditions of the people.
Ms Tove Degnbol, Denmark Ambassador, praised the partnership deal between CARE and BLUETOWN and expressed confidence that at the end of the project, Ghana would have the needed support towards harnessing its agriculture potentials.
She commended Ghanaâ€™s concerted efforts in promoting digitisation through initiatives such as Ghana Card, paperless port, and the new driversâ€™ license.
According to her, the digitisation process in Ghana was moving fast but, noted that inequality between the rural and urban settings continued to widen, as, â€œTechnology plays an important role in closing the gapâ€.
Ms Degnbol said the digitization drive was key in achieving the â€˜Ghana Beyond Aidâ€™ agenda espoused by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to make the country self-reliant.
Mr Brain Tsikpor, the Corporate Affairs, BLUETOWN Ghana, described the project as: â€œA dream come true and a milestone in our quest to ensure that the less privileged communities are connected in Ghanaâ€.
He said so far about 6,000 people were connected to high speed affordable internet through a state of the art WiFi internet technology for about 12 communities in the project areas with the support of Microsoft, Ghanaâ€™s local government and other institutions, saying internet connections to the communities has triggered enormous opportunities in the areas.
Mr Tsikpor said the partnership between the two organisations had come at a time as it started expanding its capabilities on infrastructure.
â€œWe have just launched the cloud in Ashimura a community in the Esunapo North municipal Assembly and for the purpose of these project farmers in this community will be provided with relevant information on crop production,â€ he said.
The information provided to farmers covered planting, fertilizer application, harvesting, weather forecasting and others.
The Connecting the Unconnected project is an innovative partnership between BLUETOWN, CARE, the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and local strategic partners in Ghana, funded by the Danish International Development Agency (Danida) under the Danida Market Development Partnerships Programme