BOARD Chairman of the Kosmos Innovation Centre (KIC), Mr Joe Mensah has advised greater collaboration, adoption of digital technology, harnessing of rich local knowledge and practices, and environmental sustainability to transform agriculture in Ghana and in Africa.
Mr Mensah who is also the Head of the Ghana Business Unit at Kosmos Energy encouraged young budding entrepreneurs and stakeholders in the agricultural sector to value innovation in a bid to revolutionise agriculture and creating lasting inter-linkages between agriculture and industry.
KIC invests in young entrepreneurs and small businesses to turn their ideas into viable self-sustaining businesses and reach their full potential.
Since its inception, over 2,600 young leaders have been trained in business skills and entrepreneurship.
Mr Mensah was speaking at the Inaugural Agricultural Innovation (IAI) conference themed Empowering youth led start-ups and Agri MSMEs in Africa: Advancing Food Security through Innovation and Collaboration.
Quoting McKinsey & Co., Mr Mensah noted that digital technologies have the power to transform agri-food systems in emerging markets by accelerating the work of participants across the value chain, including input players, producers, off takers, and retailers.
“The adoption of digital technologies for Africa’s agriculture will translate into increases in farmer income, increases in agricultural output, government savings, and effective management of food security & agricultural transformation,
There is a huge opportunity for young people and Agri-MSMEs to adapt and deploy technologies across the entire value chain to accelerate the transformation. “
According to Mr Mensah, “for Kosmos Innovation Center, the strategic vision is to provide young people with the tools, skills, and capacity building to identify these opportunities, while linking them to potential investors to scale up. As a Board Chair, | hold this vision dear to my heart.”
Innovation is not an isolated endeavor; it thrives on collaboration and the exchange of ideas. It’s all about distillation of knowledge.
The conference, Mr Mensah noted was a testament to the power of collective thinking. By working together, we can unlock innovative solutions that drive sustainable growth and development.
Harnessing local knowledge
The KIC Board Chairman observed that one of the unique strengths of Africa’s agricultural landscape lay in its rich tapestry of local knowledge and practices.
“Our continent is home to a wealth of traditional agricultural wisdom that has sustained communities for generations. It’s imperative that we respect and integrate this knowledge into our innovation strategies. By doing so, we can build solutions that are not only effective, but also culturally sensitive and appropriate. We do not need to throw away our time-tested ideas or practices.
Technology as an enabler
The modern world presents us with an array of technological advancements that can transform the way we approach agriculture. From precision farming and remote sensing to blockchain applications in supply chains, technology has the potential to revolutionize the agricultural sector.
However, it’s important to remember that technology is a tool, and its impact is amplified when coupled with the insights and needs of the communities it serves.
Sustainability at the core
For Mr Mensah, agricultural innovation in Africa must be rooted in sustainability.
He said “as we explore new methods and practices, we must remain vigilant in our commitment to environmental conservation, responsible resource management, and equitable distribution of benefits. The innovations we develop should not only boost productivity but also contribute to a more resilient and inclusive agricultural system.”
Young entrepreneurs are the change-makers
Addressing the young budding entrepreneurs directly, Mr Mensah said “each one of you in this room has a vital role to play in driving agricultural innovation forward. Whether you are a researcher, a farmer, a policymaker, a technology developer, or an entrepreneur, your contributions are instrumental in shaping the future of Africa’s agriculture. I encourage you to actively engage, collaborate, and share your insights during the course of this conference. The discussions and connections made here will reverberate far beyond these four walls.”
Minister of Food and Agriculture (MoF), Mr Bryan Acheampong pledged government’s commitment to the vision of ensuring a modernized agriculture culminating in a structurally transformed economy and evident in food security, employment opportunities and reduced poverty.
He added that “young people and Agri-MSMEs will play a critical role in this regard. Our Programmes, and strategies have been developed to ensure particular attention is paid to Youth-led Start-ups and Agri-MSMEs. Working together with other partner agencies, the ministry is committed to creating an enabling policy and regulatory framework environment based on key strategies such as the West Africa Food Systems Resilience Programme, Modernizing Agriculture in Ghana .