A study by International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (Iita), which focuses on youth participation in agriculture, has indicated that the use of information and communication technology (ICT) maximises profits among youth agri-entrepreneurs.
The study’s author research scientist Aubrey Jolex revealed that the use of ICT creates employment opportunities in agribusiness since youths are highly motivated to engage and remain in the sector because the same tools that they use to connect with people simplify and expand their businesses.
“Intensity of ICT use in agribusiness leads to improved access to information on inputs, prices, finance and market identification which in turn leads to improved use of inputs and an increase in sales; hence, boosting profits,” he said.
One of the youth agri-entrepreneurs from Lilongwe Mathias Kamweta, who is into horticultural production, said that finding reliable and profitable markets could have been difficult or impossible without ICT.
He said when his products are ready, he uses Facebook and Whatsapp to sell; hence, he sells at a higher price.
“Without the use of these platforms, we could have been selling to mobile vendors at a lower price who in turn sell to people in town at a higher price and reap more profits from our products,” he said.
Another youth, Master Kapalamula, who specialises in tomato production, said the use of ICT has helped him to find markets in chain stores such as Shoprite and Chipiku.
In addition to this, he said ICT helped him to deal with pests which attacked his crops this year.
Said Kapalamula; “The prices in chain stores are much better compared to the local markets; hence, I am able to realise more profits from my business.
“This year, we could have yielded nothing from tomato fields due to pest infestation, but ICT helped me to find the remedy to deal with those pests.”
Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (Luanar) is not lagging behind in as far as use of ICT is concerned as it is developing different software to disseminate agriculture information to farmers.
According to the Luanar expert responsible for implementing the use of ICT Daniel Chiumia, examples of software include those to do with financial management in farm business, farm activity management and communication and data management platforms.
“ICT is helpful as it makes provision of services faster, dependable, available in real-time and more personalised which in the end cuts costs; hence, increasing profit margins,” he said.