Building Innovative Systems and Adoption of ICTs for Agriculture in West Africa

Maureen Agena
07 Jun 2021 0

The Inception meeting for the project on Accelerating inclusive green growth through agri-based digital innovation in West Africa (AGriDI) took place from 2-4 June 2021 in a hybrid style, at icipe in Nairobi and virtually. The meeting’s objectives were to welcome and introduce the core project team and parties, get a shared understanding on the AGriDI project vision, goals, key outputs to be delivered and implementation arrangements. Partner roles and responsibilitiesguidelines and manuals were also discussed.

AGriDI is a 4-year intervention that will be implemented in the ECOWAS states in Western Africa region and is expected to lead to; (i) increased uptake of agri-based digital technologies by farmers and SMEs especially women and youth in the region; (ii) strengthened linkages between research communities, industry and policy actors in digital innovations in the region and (iii) a strengthened policy environment for scaling agri-business digital innovations in the region. A call for proposals is currently open.

In the opening session, Dr Moses Osiru the Manager of The Regional Scholarship, and Innovation Fund (RSIF) at icipe welcomed participants and gave an overview of the AGriDI project. He said that its  implementation model involves a competitive grants scheme that will award grants to stakeholders in the various categories of agri-based digital innovations in West Africa. Grantees will benefit from technical assistance support and know-how towards the successful development and scaling the use of the digital technologies in the countries and West Africa region.

Dr. Sunday Ekesi, the Director of Research and Partnerships at icipe reiterated the importance of digital innovation in agri-business and emphasised the need for reforms that address digital infrastructure gaps and make the digital economy more inclusive –ensuring affordability but also building skills for all segments of society, with deliberate efforts towards improving connectivity, boosting digital technology adoption, and generating more and better jobs for vulnerable groups like youth and women. He thanked the ACP Innovation Fund, which is implemented by Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) Research and Innovation Programme, with financial contribution from European Union.

AGriDI is jointly implemented by the icipe as the Lead and its partners, the University of Abomey Calavi in Benin, Agropolis Foundation in France and Gearbox Pan African Network in Kenya and is one of the 8 granted projects financed under the ACP Innovation Fund.

Speaking on behalf of the Minister of Benin for Higher Education and Scientific Research, Prof. Rogatien M. Tossou said that

We believe that the AGriDI initiative will build innovative systems and adoption of ICT innovations for Agriculture in Africa

He was pleased that special focus was given to West Africa and he said he was optimistic that the solutions from the project would help Africa connect with the rest of the world and compete favourably.

A baseline/scoping exercise on digital solutions in ECOWAS will be undertaken, led by the university of Abomey Calavi and supported by the Agropolis foundation, Gearbox Pan African Network and icipe to understand the digital eco-system of the region and enable AGriDI achieve its intended objectives aimed at transform the livelihoods of youth and women through the use, application and uptake of agri- based digital innovations.

While closing the meeting, Dr Julius Ecuru, Head of Bioinnovate Africa at icipe, thanked all the partners for their active participation and contributions.

Find the Call for proposals here