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Building inclusive agricultural technologies for young people

“Young people are best placed to understand and clearly voice out issues that their fellow youth are facing”. This was the premise that the Restless Development and the MasterCard Foundation stood on to introduce the youth to youth-led research methodology. Under the methodology, young people were empowered to take the lead in all stages of the research process from question design to analysis to the conclusions in the report. The 2017/18 Youth Think Tank Research Report was launched in Accra on 28th February, 2018 with massive presence of young people. The main goal of the research was to investigate the barriers and opportunities around agricultural technologies ideation, promotion, and uptake by young people in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ghana, Malawi and Zambia.

The report discovered that young people in Africa are already in the process of solving the problems they encounter in the agrifood system.

The key findings of the report include:

  1.  Agricultural technologies should be tailored to optimize opportunities for young people — particularly rural young people — to maximize their on-farm activities and facilitate their entry into off-farm activities.
  2.  To ideate, young people need a resourced space where they can share ideas and access mentorship.
  3. The dissemination of information through inappropriate channels such as social media is a barrier to the uptake of technologies at scale.
  4. Young people have unaddressed gaps in the skills required to operate agricultural technologies.
  5.  Both adopters and innovators are constrained by inadequate accessible financial products to invest specifically in agricultural technologies - with respect to both ideation and uptake.

The findings in the report will inform government and development actors about the extent of the innovation and uptake of agricultural technologies and also create awareness of the power of youth-informed policies and projects. The report is a call to action for all stakeholders to change their concept of youth programming and to invest in approaches that involve young people throughout the process.For YPARD Ghana the Youth Think Tank report identifies the real issues with its solutions. It calls for more technologies for youth which will provide more opportunities for young people, exposure of information disseminators (extension agents or advisory service providers) to new technologies and the redesigning of financial products by financial institutions to accommodate risk in agriculture and the youth. YPARD Ghana with support from other organizations will strengthen its “Farmer KONET” programme and incubation hubs creation on campuses of tertiary institutions with the aim of creating space for youth to ideate and access mentorship.

Photo credit: Kafui Kwesi Agbe