Young people have shared the challenges they have in designing and using agricultural technologies, and they are not the ones that you might expect or that decision-makers are talking about.
In response to these challenges, young people are already developing their own solutions that could act as models for other actors in this sector who are looking to address these challenges in a systematic way.
These are the key messages that emerged today from the launch of a new report releasing findings from a seven-country youth-led research on young people’s experience with technology in the agri-food system.
Organised by Restless Development and Mastercard Foundation in Accra, Ghana, today, the research findings share insights from 14 members of the Youth Think Tank program’s current cohort, drawn from: Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya, Zambia, Malawi, and Ghana.
The peer-to-peer research that they have conducted provides key insights into how young people interact with technological innovations across various parts of the agri-food system in sub-Saharan Africa.
The data that informs the report are drawn from interviews, focus group discussions, and survey data captured from young agricultural technology innovators, promoters, and adopters from various points in the agri-food system.
Patrick Lolung, one of the Youth Think Tank Researchers from Kenya, said:
“The Youth Think Tank evidence-based research report is an echo of young people’s voices—our perspectives on ways things ought to be done. The report has come at the right time when we, the young people, are rapidly advancing and incorporating technologies in our lives in every aspect. The findings and recommendations we arrived at perfectly address the current challenges we grapple with and [suggest] what could be the way forward for the policy actors and other stakeholders.”
Catherine Rodgers, Hub Director, Restless Development Uganda
“Beyond the practical recommendations that this research suggests, we are excited that these are agenda-setting findings—findings that highlight what we should be looking at in this sector. Young people are using their voices to inform the agricultural technology community of practice on the challenges and barriers that they should be addressing. Through the solutions that they have already developed, young people are influencing how actors in this space should be responding to these challenges.”
In response, the recommended approach identified through the analysis calls for the need to move away from understanding technologies as a linear path—moving from innovator to promoter to end-user. Instead, we need to facilitate these actors towards interacting with each other in an interconnected landscape built on the foundation of a supportive environment. We can build the inclusion that young people ask for by developing more spaces where actors—innovators, promoters, and adopters—are encouraged to interact meaningfully with each other. We can build the responsiveness of technology that young users call for by building more sophisticated feedback and information-sharing mechanisms so that young adopters can be part of the process from the point of informing technology design according to their needs.