Supporting Youth ICT
outh ICT-based Entrepreneurship and
Innovations in Agriculture
Concept note (draft)
Arnhem 19 to 21 November 2013
In 2013, CTA has adopted its youth strategy for 2013 - 2017. Its purpose is to: boost the
engagement of young people in agriculture and rural development (ARD) for the growth of ACP
agricultural economies and to improve youth livelihoods. It will achieve this by facilitating the
development of targeted policies, sustaining young professionals’ engagement in ARD,
enhancing their capacity to use ICT for agriculture, supporting their innovations, and ensuring
that they reap full benefits from improved value chains. Indeed, for several years, CTA has been
supporting or implementing various activities in that framework. Four key goals have been
identified in CTA’s youth strategy towards which the organization will concentrate its efforts.
The adoption of this strategy was a key step to streamline CTA activities to enhance youth
engagement in agriculture and rural development. One of the key goals is to enhance youth
engagement in agriculture through ICT innovation and utilization. Many activities that were
previously implemented, especially through the Agriculture, Rural Development and Youth in the
Information Society (ARDYIS) project, have focused on the use of ICT by youth engaged in
ARD. One activity coordinated via this project is the production of a publication on
“Programming Youth Development” in collaboration with FAO and IFAD. The publication has
identified a number of youth-focused initiatives, including ICT-based initiatives, that may be
used as reference or model for youths and other stakeholders involved in development and
This meeting will discuss some of these case studies, as well as other key youth experiences,
including challenges faced by youth and organizations supporting them in this area. It will, in
addition, discuss potential areas of activities that could be implemented with selected partners
which will lead to the implementation of Goal 3 of the CTA youth strategy.
The three strategic objectives of this goal, articulated around these key areas, are:
- To enhance youth’s awareness of agricultural issues and opportunities through ICT
- To support and promote youth-led ICT innovations and entrepreneurship in agriculture
- To build and strength ICKM capacity of youth organizations engaged in ARD
Apart from sharing and discussing youth innovative experiences identified in particular through
the CTA/FAO/IFAD project, the workshop will devise on the best ways to achieve the last two
strategic objectives on which the ARDYIS project has focused less so far, and which appear to
be the most challenging.
ICT POTENTIALS FOR YOUTH IN AGRICULTURE
Young people are at the forefront of the development of innovations especially in the
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector in all regions of the world. There is
overwhelmingly evidence that new ICTs, in particular the mobile communication, empower
knowledge exchange and offer new tools that improve trade in the agricultural sector.
Booming of ICT access and utilization
In ACP countries, the penetration of mobile phones has exploded, even in the
agriculture sector. The figures are quite impressive: we count above 700 millions
of mobile phone subscriptions in Africa today; above 80% of subscriptions in Fiji,
more than 100% subscriptions in many countries in the Caribbean. As the mobile
phone increasingly conveys the internet signal in ACP regions, the potential for
improved innovative uses are booming. We have 43% growth in smartphones in
Africa in 20121 and 50% of internet connections in Africa come exclusively from
mobile2. A Vodafone report expects $48 billion potential increase in agricultural
income in Africa by 2020 due to the spread of mobile technology3. And 56%
increase in milk production by those farmers using the iCow App and platform in
As a matter of fact, the World Bank through its Infodev programme affirms that
“The ability of ICTs to bring refreshed momentum to agriculture appears even
more compelling in light of rising investments in agricultural research, the private
sector’s strong interest in the development and spread of ICTs, and the upsurge
of organizations committed to the agricultural development agenda4”.
The explosion of the social penetration of ICT tools has at least three implications for engaging
youth in agriculture. First, this means that there are increased opportunities to reach and
encourage the youths to get engaged in agriculture by undertaking outreach through web 2.0
tools such as Facebook and Twitter, where they often meet and interact. Secondly, if
adequately supported, young people can develop or offer software and ICT platforms services,
targeting the agricultural sector, in order to increase its performance. Lastly, young farmers can
tap into new communication technologies, more than in previous times, to reduce their
transaction costs, improve business management and extend their access to markets.
This potential has been acknowledged in the Pacific Youth in Agriculture Strategy, which called
governments and partners to support the provision of ICT capacity to young farmers and take
into account their needs in ICT policy making. Similar recommendations have also been made
by young people surveyed in the framework of the project “Facilitating Access of Rural Youth to
Agricultural Activities”, implemented by the 'International Movement of Catholic Agricultural and
Rural Youth (MIJARC), with support from the FAO and IFAD5.
As it appears, the use of ICT by youth for agriculture will not only support youth’s livelihoods but
will contribute to an important extent to boosting the transformation and modernisation of
agricultural value chains in ACP regions.
OBJECTIVES, EXPECTED RESULTS, PARTICIPANTS
Objectives of the workshop
Based on the above, the objectives of the workshop are to:
Discuss innovative experiences and issues relating to promoting ICT innovations and
entrepreneurship in agriculture by youth;
Identify strategies, key projects ideas and performance indicators for supporting youth ICT
innovations and entrepreneurship in agriculture.
“Digital storm awaits Africa amid greater smartphone adoption” – Simnikiwe Mzekandaba
ITWeb. 20 August 2013
Report Connected Agriculture : The role of mobile in driving efficiency and sustainability in the food and
agriculture value chain, Vodafone 2012
ICT in agriculture: connecting Smallholders to Knowledge, Networks, and Institutions; World bank, Infodev, 2011
Summary of the findings of the project implemented by MIJARC in collaboration with FAO and IFAD: ‘Facilitating
access of rural youth to agricultural activities’, 2012
It is expected the meeting will reach the following results:
- Better understanding of, and knowledge shared about key experiences relating to ICTbased innovation and entrepreneurship in agriculture throughout the ACP regions;
- Identification of key challenges faced by young innovators, entrepreneurs and
organizations supporting them in that framework, as well as and ways to address them;
- Identification of key projects ideas, collaboration opportunities and performance
indicators for supporting youth ICT innovations and entrepreneurship in agriculture,
notably in view of the implementation of the CTA new Youth Strategy.
- Recommendations on the potential creation of a network of institutions supporting youth
ICT-based innovations and entrepreneurship in agriculture.
Participants of the workshop will come from the ACP regions and will represent:
Young farmer groups and regional organizations working with young farmers and
interested in the use of ICT tools;
Youth ICT innovators/developers and entrepreneurs involved in, or interested in the
Institutions and ICT innovation centres incubating youth innovators;
Key international and regional organizations supporting youth innovation or
entrepreneurship in agriculture;
Ministries or public institutions in charge of agriculture.
4. FORMAT OF THE WORKSHOP
The workshop will include plenary panels, direct interactive exchanges and breakout sessions.
Panel and key thematic interventions will provide in-depth analysis or information on some
specific issues and experiences. Interactive exchanges will offer the opportunity to listen and
interact directly with some key implementers in order to have substantial understanding of
experiences and challenges. Breakout sessions (panel discussions and practical issue
identification sessions) will provide opportunity for debating and making recommendations on
specific issues. Other plenary sessions will be dedicated to sharing and discussing conclusions
of breakout sessions.
5. OVERVIEW OF INITIATIVES AND CHALLENGES
A few experiences that could be discussed are briefly introduced below. These are some
youth focused initiatives identified through the CTA/IFAD/FAO research or through
ARDYIS activities. They illustrate some of the opportunities and challenges relating to
ICT-based innovations and entrepreneurship in agriculture. They are classified in
categories. In each category, two initiatives are presented.
5.1. ICT software and companies targeting the agriculture sector
Initiatives in this category illustrate how youth are contributing to supporting the sector
through their innovations, while seeking to improve their livelihoods.
mLouma6 is one of three agriculture-based start-ups launched with the help of CTIC, an
innovation centre in Dakar, Senegal. The service helps farmers and agribusinesses use market
information to make the best possible sales and purchasing decisions for agricultural products.
The idea was born when Aboubacar Sidy Sonko, the young creator of the company, entered a
social enterprise for Africa competition held by France Télécom in 20117. The proposal won him
a place in the finals, and afterwards, with support from CTIC Dakar, the small mLouma team
carried out research in the field in order to get a better understanding of farmers’ real needs and
e-Market is an agricultural information system initiated after a group of youths, supported by the
association (Farming and Technology for Africa, Madagascar) won the Youth in Agriculture Blog
Competition (YoBloCo Awards) organized by CTA. The cash prize they received was
instrumental in the launch of the initiative. They started business research for the creation of the
software and launched its development. Currently the application is operational and they are
working towards its adoption by the public and the farming community.
- Syecomp Business
Syecomp Business Services Ltd is a young geospatial survey and mapping company in
Ghana. For about three years they have been supporting smallholder producer groups to
become organic and Global GAP certified as means of enhancing their competitiveness on the
local and international markets. Certification requires that farmers’ fields and orchards are
clearly identifiable. Their solution involves GPS referencing of farms (survey and mapping)
using a GPS handset; transmitting and analyzing data (creating maps, determining farmland
sizes, acreage estimation and yield estimation).
Other initiatives include:
Mfarm, a software solution and agribusiness created by three young women which more
than 7,000 farmers in Kenya and which also informs about issues relating to women’s
engagement in agricultural and ICT businesses.
Mfarms and Farmerline, two market information facilities in Ghana
Challenges faced by some of these institutions include better understanding farmer needs and
issues, resources to go to scale, increased support for the management of this kind of business,
sustainability of services to farmers.
Organizations supporting innovations in agriculture and ICT
Various organizations are putting efforts to encourage the development of ICT applications,
agricultural entrepreneurship or entrepreneurship in ICT in general. They generally support
initiatives in different development sector (education, transport, economic services, health, etc.).
Increasing apps developed are focusing on agriculture. Examples of initiatives include:
- Orange African Social Venture Prize
The Orange African Social Venture Prize is a mobile application challenge by Orange Africa
promoting social innovation for development through ICTs, financial and management support
to new businesses. At each edition, 3 winners receive financial grants and benefit from a 6month mentoring by experts.
Mlouma has won or been nominated in a number of awards. It was selected as one of 40 best African
start-ups for Demo Africa 2012 (http://bit.ly/SSra4O). It won the BUNTUTEKI programme launched by
CTIC DAKAR (http://bit.ly/NHEcTd). It was nominated for the World Summit Award -- m-business
category -- (www.wsa-mobile.org)
- Global Youth Innovation Network (GYIN)
GYIN has been established by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and
Phelps Stokes, a USA-based Foundation. It seeks to develop evidence-based, sustainable,
scalable, and cost-effective agribusiness, entrepreneurship, and leadership programs and
policies that address the root causes of youth unemployment, while increasing the opportunities
young people have to obtain a decent job or start a successful business. GYIN is strongly
interested in ICT use in that perspective.
JokkoLabs8 is a West African innovation space for co-working and innovation, mainly based in
Senegal but with branches in other countries such as Mali. It assists ICT innovators, start-ups in
the creation, development and growth of their product and services. They have collaborated
with some youth who have developed ICT applications for agriculture.
Other organizations include:
- Infodev a global partnership program within the World Bank working to support
innovation and entrepreneurship in the agricultural sector with a specific focus on the
use of ICTs and mobile phone.
- ICT hubs in East Africa with which CTA is collaborating in the framework of the AgriHack Championship9 planned during the ICT4Ag Conference in Rwanda.
The activities sustained by these organisations do not specifically or always strategically target
(in the objectives of the organization) young people, the ICT sector, or agricultural sector. On
the basis of its niches, CTA, in particular though the ARDYIS project, is interested in
contributing to put into limelight and streamline efforts aiming addressing innovation and
entrepreneurship for youths in the ICT and agricultural sector as an issue. Potential
collaboration areas will be discussed with partners operating similar initiatives. Among others
and as a way to provide an exchange forum for those interested in this area, the creation of a
platform to facilitate these kinds of initiatives will be explored.
ICT enhancing youth-led agricultural business
Examples of initiatives include:
- ICT training for Fafotraj young farmers
Farmers Forum for Trade & Social Justice (FAFOTRAJ) is a registered Malawian nongovernmental organization established in 2007. Since its inception in 2007, FAFOTRAJ has
been implementing a number of youth-focused projects in agriculture as a business to improve
their livelihood. FAFOTRAJ is currently involved in a project which aims among others, to
support various young farmers groups who will receive training on the use of ICT to support the
marketing of their business.
- Mkulima youth
Mkulima Young aims to encourage the Kenyan youth to engage in agricultural issues through
awareness creation and knowledge change by harnessing the power of radio and ICTs. It
identifies youth engaged in outstanding agricultural entrepreneurial activities and disseminates
these to other through radio and Social Media (Facebook and Twitter). The social media spaces
also act sometimes as a marketplace where youth post links, photos and videos as well as ask
questions, discuss issues regarding their business or interact with other youth passionate about
agriculture as a business.