The challenges facing the agricultural sector are on the rise, especially with climate change affecting the health of farmers and the environment as a whole. The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) holds that agriculture is the single largest employer in the world, and according to the Food Agricultural Organization (FAO) 2.5 billion people depend on the sector for their livelihoods, yet the vast majority make less than 5 US dollars a day. According to the World Resources Institute, climate change is projected to have net adverse impacts on crop yields, with up to 50% less yields given the predicted warmer world.
Unfortunately, with the increasing challenges, over 84% of the farmers affected by climate change are small holders who produce 30 to 34% of the world’s food. Consequently, these farmers must contend with challenges like low yields, poor efficiency, and the impact of climate change. Thus, to ensure food security, agriculture needs to become more sustainable—economically, environmentally, and socially—by applying innovation through digital technology (UNDP).
Considering that amongst the 84% of small holders, the majority of such farmers—especially in Africa, and Cameroon in particular—come from rural communities and constitute more of the women population who have very little or no understanding of technology or digitalization of their activities. All this seriously jeopardizes the efforts of rural women towards ensuring food security.
With this in mind, we planned and organized a working session with key actors in the rural communities of the South West Region of Cameroon to assess and evaluate the knowledge and usage of digital, technological agriculture.
In the course of our discussions, we learned that 90% of the participants had no idea what technological or digital agriculture was all about, while the other 10% who were aware of it, really had no idea how to apply that knowledge. Furthermore, we realized that the participants had limited knowledge on what climate change was and some of them did not comprehend the term Smart Agriculture, thus making it clear that without better education, these women will not be able to sustain even their own household in the long run.
At the end of the session, these women requested that Global Hand plan more enlarged and inclusive training workshops and focused group discussions to enhance their knowledge of the application of technological and digital agriculture. Other areas in which the participants found interest is in the domain of climate change, especially in its mitigation and the adaptations required by it.
We are encouraged by this interest and plan to conduct more such educational sessions in the future.