Most youth, particularly the educated ones, do not see farming as a reasonable thing to do and those who are farmers are being adjudged as poor persons with limited chances of being successful in society. However, Audio conferencing is aiding Agricultural extension in northern Ghana and is making youth in this village embrace farming. Savannah Young Farmers Network, an NGO in Ghana, employs ICTs to convey agricultural and village counseling action, and encourage the active involvement of youth in farming. This is done through their Audio Conferencing for Extension Project, which takes place in villages in the Builsa District of northern Ghana.
The Audio Conferencing Extension gives farmers easy access to Agric extension information any time they are in need of it, and this helps in solving the farmers’ challenges and boosts productivity, and makes their living standards better. The Audio Conference for Extension project employs the mechanism of audio conferencing technology to engage farmers in regular gatherings alongside agricultural officers from Savannah Young Farmers Network, together with a broad diversity of agricultural extension specialists, agronomists, ICT specialists, and researchers from various foundations.
Savannah Young Farmers Network at the moment implements its program with 25 farmer-based organizations, with over 200 farmers in its scope. Every farmer group will have an audio conference like two times a week, with the preference decision to put a call for an urgent situation meeting, when there is a requirement to hold such a meeting.
This initiative seeks to find solutions to constraints farmers encounter with agricultural extension, in places where services are uneven. Numerous youthful farmers believe that agric extension given out, that the approaches are not modified to their exact expectation where they will see the importance of accepting agriculture as a career and serious endeavor.
Skilled Community agricultural information takes pictures with their digital cameras and video coverage of documentaries, describing the constraints these farmers are encountering, and whichever way out available. In other alternatives, Community Agricultural Information employs rural agricultural information and research (AIR) centres with internet access to upload videos to YouTube, for Savannah Young Farmers Network staff and other project researchers to view. In the case of non-availability of internet, the videos are saved and Savannah Young Farmers Network officers collect them on their subsequent appointments.
The Community Agricultural Information officers are working with the farmers to smooth the progress and to guarantee that farmers can articulate their worries and claims, and vigorously partake in putting together extension counseling. They employ the use of a cell phone with an audio conferencing purpose, attached to a loudspeaker making everybody in the group listen to the feedback from the counselors. All the farmers involved will make their inputs by talking bringing their mouths close to the cell phone.
The Community Agricultural Information writes down the minutes of every audio conference for reflection subsequently, and to be certain that the farmers comprehend the reactions from Savannah Young Farmers Network and the additional partakers. Every Community agricultural information person owns a laptop computer, thus they will be able to write their reports and connect to the internet, and be in touch directly with Savannah Young Farmers Network central office through the help of Facebook and Skype calls.
Going by the recorded success of this Audio Conferencing for Extension, and additional initiatives by means of cell phones, dedicated software, and additional means of Information Communication Technology, it is certain to all of us that technology is indispensable to the boosting of agriculture especially among the young people found in rural communities in West Africa.
Agriculture no doubt is likely to be means of living and survival for many youth in the few years to come as governments in West African states do not appear to have the capacity to provide formal jobs for the highly populated youth. Youth can only embrace farming if the necessary incentives are there to entice them.
An interesting technological initiative of this nature will no doubt make the youth in the region engage in farming, thus West African states must fund and invest in this kind of initiative particularly as it gives jobs to the unemployed youth that constitutes a social problem to the region as at today.
Note: Picture not taken by MAWA, used for an illustration