10 Ways A Youth can use ICTs to Boost his or her Agribusiness

As a young farmer, your agricultural business should be much better than that of your parents. You should be producing more than they did, earning more, employing more people on your farm, and thinking beyond using a hoe to till the land!

Your parents lived much of their productive lives in the 20th century without much access to the knowledge and tools available to the youth today. They lived during a troubled period while today is more stable and calm for agricultural production.

Here are 10 ways to use Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) to improve and boost the performance of your agricultural business. From Wikipedia, ICTs as a general term for all kinds of technologies which enable users to create, access and manipulate information.

Here are 10 ways to improve a young farmer's business using freely available ICT tools:

1. Use free & opensource software
Forget using windows. Even if you are using a version of windows XP/Vista/7 which you got from your friend for free, you are not safe from malware, spyware and deadly computer viruses! These can greatly cost your agricultural business alot of money in form of constantly buying antivirus programs which never work.

Instead turn to using Ubuntu which is free to download and use and above all free from computer viruses. There is also alot of support for it online if you encounter problems. It comes with openoffice which has free word processing, spreadsheets, powerpoint and browsers for browsing the Internet. 

2. Using free blogging / website platforms to write online
  • blogger - www.blogger.com - easier to use and provided by Google
  • wordpress - www.wordpress.com
  • tumblr - www.tumblr.com
Use these free services to constantly update your audience on the activities on your farm. If you are growing matooke, do not be shy from writing numerous articles on how to grow matooke, cook matooke, trade in matooke etc.

3. Use Skype to call abroad Free
this is the most widely used software on the Internet to call and talk to business partners, donors, friends abroad. Skype-to-skype computer calls are free of charge. Use this to communicate instead of the expensive mobile telecom providers.

4. Free marketing tools to promote your agricultural business. You can use facebook or social networking, sending direct emails to your friends, blogging, weblinks, participate in agricultural online forums, place Ads on your website as some forms of online marketing.

Your agricultural business gets known the world over hence increasing traffic and business. Marketing & selling using TV or sales people is expensive & not affordable to most young farmers.

5. Do not be a jack of all trades and master of none which makes you very tired, inefficient and ineffective. Concentrate on what you do best and outsource the rest of the other activities.

For instance, if your typing speed is slow (2 words per minute), don't insist on typing a 10 page proposal document even if you have your own computer. Go down to the Internet cafe and have the attendant type it for you at a little fee. You will get back your document much sooner and you will have more time to work on something else.

6. Organise business activities
in a way to cut Travel and meetings costs. Use your phone, email address, websites, videos to reach your clients. Physically traveling away from your agricultural business often makes it unavailable. Travel only if you must.

7. Use Mobile Money services - all major telcom providers do have mobile money receiving and payment services. Make it very easy for your customers to trade with you by making sure your mobile phone is registered to receive mobile payments. In Uganda, MTN mobile money, Airtel, Orange, warid are all reported to be offering this service.

8. Sign up to receive daily market information from services such as FOODNET. Newspapers and radio are also a good source of market information. You could also use your mobile phone to subscribe to agricultural information services. Make sure to record the trend of the agricultural products you are interested in. Over time, you will always know where the most demand for your products are.

9. Join the national government body of farmers or it's equivalent - this is very important. Through the national farmer's body, the government channels all funds and support towards improving the livelihoods of farmers. As a young, vibrant and ambitious farmer, active participation would easily place you in reach of such resources. In Uganda, such a body is NAADS, the local chamber of commerce or the SACCOs.

10. Post your agricultural Produce online -  There are a number of websites online where you could post agricultural produce to sell. Some of these are below
  • Google Trader - its free to post items for sell. You can access it on your mobile phone too.
  • Facebook Marketplace - Post whatever you are selling. You have an audience of over 500 million people! You need to join facebook to post.
  • Use your facebook status to post agricultural products you are selling
  • Email friends about products you have and if they know anyone who can buy from you. Use your phone to call if possible.
  • Webbiz Africa, Mukatale, the eye Magazine - these are all websites with large audiences that you can use to market your produce.
  • Join the fair trade foundation - to reach European markets and sell in tonnes of agricultural products.
From experience, these methods have worked for us. We keep on using them everyday. What is the experience in your country? Please share with us in the comments below.

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1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this really useful post. Although I knew about pretty much all of them, I had never seen them compiled and explained in one place. This is very helpful,
    because now I can go down the list and implement them all. Knowing about something is not the same as having an actionable to-do list.
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