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CT4AG conference kicks off with big promises

Kigali, Minagri News, 4 nov 2013

November 11, 2013

The long awaited international conference on ICT for agriculture has become a reality in Kigali on November 4th, bringing more than 400 participants from Africa, Asia, Pacific, and beyond to discuss and showcase how ICT applications can help in improving the agriculture sector.

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The pre-conference day, Plug and Play Day, brought together innovators and entrepreneurs who were able to showcase their latest ICT applications and social media tools, and shared with participants how emerging trends can be applied to agricultural development.

Some of the applications included agri-input verification systems that can test counterfeited seeds, fertilizers and other inputs, a farming-related instructural software that deals with farming cooperative management, among others.

Ernest Ruzindaza, Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Agriculture & Animal Resources (MINAGRI), warmly welcomed the participants, saying that these ICT applications will increase impact through production improvements and access to market information.

P.S. Ruzindaza described the Plug and Play Day as a practical event for participants to look for solutions to challenges farmers are facing in the agriculture sector across the entire value chain.
Quick information is really necessary if we want farmers to make impact and that impact is in line with increasing productivity, Ruzindaza pointed out. If you want to increase income for a farmer, first of all, you have to work on productivity. How do we use ICT tools to reach that? How do we package our messages in line with productivity increases so that our farmers get impacts? That is something real and that what we want to happen this morning.
P.S. Ruzindaza also noted that the conference will be an occasion to see how already-existing applications, such as e-Soko, can be improved for further development. According to him, this should also be a platform to find solutions that can be used to mitigate current issues, such as effects of climate change.

All these expectations are achievable, Ruzindaza noted, since a variety of stakeholders representing policymakers, development partners, ICT experts, government agencies, private sector, and farmer cooperatives are present in the conference.

Rosemary Mbabazi, Permanent Secretary of Ministry of ICT & Youth, mentioned that Rwanda's Vision 2020 looks at making ICT the key driver of various sectors.

A 4-day regional hakackthon, a parallel event that will feature competitions on the development of application solutions in ICT for Agriculture, was also launched at K-Lab, Telecom House, on November 4th, 2013. 6 group competitors from the African region participated in the hackathon.

The main conference is scheduled to be officially November 5th, 2013.