‘Knowledge is power’, a powerful quote by Francis Beacon reveals the unquantifiable power that lies in the hands of a person who possesses knowledge. The measure of two individuals lies in the enormity of the information each of them possesses. Knowledge is not only power but it is the way of life. And of course yes, the way of success, development and prosperity. Without knowledge, one is doomed!
I have been battling with some rhetorical questions on why the emphasis on ICTs as true path to a sustainable agriculture. Initially, I was blinded by the peripheral outlook of these technologies in question. But a deep search beyond the hard wares of these technologies gave me a reason to appreciate their importance. That is, its relevance and usefulness lie only in the software- the information and communication. The hardware plays the role of the skull to the brain.
So, these technologies give us access to information and enable us in effective communication and transactions amongst other people. Then, this means that ICTs in Agriculture empower us with information needed to overcome our weaknesses, chart a better course and profit beyond human capabilities the benefits for its usage. No wonder the massive transformation that cut across the whole of Africa during the technology boon which was as a result of the massive influx of investors in telecommunication sector. Till today, this is one of the most successful sectors in Africa. For example, before the millennium, there was no mobile phones, internet etc in Nigeria but today, it has rapidly grown beyond our wildest imaginations. Many Nigerians may find it difficult to live without their phones or surfing the internet even for a day. This is a perfect example of the transforming role of ICTs in human lives.
Though its usage is full of challenges ranging from cost of purchasing the technology to incessant power supply, but these challenges are most experienced by rural farmers who live in rural areas. Many of them are lacklustre in the use of these technologies. My grandmother was forced to use a mobile phone because we wanted to constantly keep in touch with her. As for her, there is no interest in the technology except to answer and possibly make calls if she demands some support or wishes to keep in touch. She does not want to bother herself trying to learn other features like sending a text message, saving people’s contacts on her phones. She is only interested in dialling and answering calls. This lack of interest from my grandmother is also peculiar to most of the rural farmers. I believe nothing much could be done about it.
The onus lies in rechanneling our energies towards the young people. That’s these farmers’ children who will possibly take after their father’s profession. These young people with vibrant and solvent cerebrum would be more enthusiastic in accepting these technologies and using them for their gains.
Capturing these young minds in the rural villages and communities can make a big difference!
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John Obiechina is the author of this blog post. See his blog page: http://www.blog.co.uk/user/greatiam/