THE SUCCESSES OF GHANA’S BOOMING AGRO-TECH ECONOMY PROVIDES GUIDANCE FOR SIMILAR PROSPERITY IN SIERRA LEONE. By: Elizabeth M’balu Oke, Ella Nordell-Morris
April 29, 2021
Agriculture is a key source of income and a major driver for economic growth in West Africa. In countries with high demographic growth and vast farmlands, like Sierra Leone, technology innovation has become increasingly important for social and economic development.
The European Union (EU) is committed to supporting countries in their transition towards a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy. The Agro-tech initiative recently launched in Sierra Leone aims at promoting green and circular economic growth. Similar experiences in neighbouring countries, like Ghana, have demonstrated exponential social and economic benefits and advancements.
EU agro-tech initiatives in Ghana contributed boosting Ghana’s agriculture industry by promoting new technologies and sustainable practices, aiding the nation in climbing employment and increasing the country’s GDP.
Certain technologies, such as drones, have drastically changed the agriculture industry in Ghana. Drones have been used by farmers to efficiently spray pesticides, and other inputs on crops. The Yonko Pa Association was able to experience the stunning effects of this new technology first-hand. Their production came to a halt when armyworm disease took over their farms. To quickly save their crops, drones managed to spray pesticides on 50 farms in just a few hours. Once farmers learned how to use the drones, drone technology proved to be an effective and significant way to further advance farming in Ghana.
Additionally, informational technology has also played a key role in Ghana’s agriculture productivity and advancement. The ability to access real-time information, like weather forecasts and market reports, is extremely helpful for farmers. This information aids farmers to market their commodities, and determine pricing based on changing supply and demand. All of the data collected becomes available to farmers in an instant through mobile phones with local-language voice technology.
Mobile phones are also key drivers for business transactions. According to Eurostat, in terms of mobile communication subscriptions per inhabitant, Ghana is in the top 20 list for Africa recording mobile communication penetration rates that matched the highest rates in the EU Member States. This increase in mobile communication contributed to ease business, contributing to Ghana’s agricultural successes.
Companies such as TroTro Tractor rely on mobile phones to partner with farmers. TroTro Tractor works with tractor suppliers and farmers and connects them through an SMS booking system. Farmers can easily and efficiently request, pay, and schedule tractor services while tractor suppliers are able to track their equipment. By using mobile phones, many farmers can connect to websites and businesses in a faster and more profitable way.
The newly launched EU agro-tech call for proposals initiative in Sierra Leone, capitalises on these success stories and aims at boosting private sector investments in technology innovations. It is a unique competitive opportunity for Sierra Leonean organizations and SME’s seeking to develop and/or expand sustainable agro-processing and agribusiness innovation and technology. A variety of funding support aimed at enhancing green sustainable agro-industry development is available. Award amounts will range from EUR 100,000 to EUR 2,000,000.
The EU is confident that this support will create a successful and lasting impact on Sierra Leone moving forwards its economy towards greener and circular approaches.
Applicants for the European Union Delegation to Sierra Leone’s Agro-Technology grants are strongly encouraged to attend an information session before concept note submission. The information session will take place May 5th via Zoom at 10:00am GMT.