Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) has said there must be concerted efforts aimed at ensuring there are right initiatives and incentives to connect farmers to internet in order to improve agricultural productivity and commercialization as stipulated in the Malawi 2063 (MW2063) vision.
MACRA Director General, Daud Suleman, made the remarks in Lilongwe during a public lecture, which the authority organized for students from Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR).
Malawi’s penetration to internet is reportedly the lowest in SADC at only 19 percent which, according to Suleman, makes it difficult for the country to catch up with others in the fourth industrial revolution.
Otherwise, said Suleman, this was the time Malawi, an agro-based economy, needed to take advantage of big data around agriculture to improve its agriculture and economy and lives of people.
Therefore, Suleman emphasized that more Malawians, the majority of them being farmers, need to be connected to internet, for agriculture has traditionally driven the country’s economy.
“We can achieve this by the collaboration of public and private agencies and other stakeholders in ensuring that we have the correct products and services that apply and relate to farmers.
“As government, we have identified and embraced the internet gap and are addressing it head-on. We hope that in the next 24 months the country should be moving towards 70 percent of internet connectivity to both broadband and mobile internet”.
LUANAR Vice Chancellor, Professor Emmanuel Kaunda, concurred with Suleman, adding that a system is indeed required to use data to make informed decisions that will improve agriculture productivity and commercialization.
“Improving agriculture productivity and commercialization is pillar one of the MW2063 vision. To achieve that, we need mechanisms that use data to inform farmers about new methods of farming being used all over the World.
“For instance, farmers need to know new crop varieties, irrigation systems and crop pests and diseases. They need this information to maximize their farm produce”.
The public lecture was held under the topic: Fourth Industrial Revolution: Agriculture Perspective.
According to MACRA, the lecture was aimed at exciting LUANAR students about the potential and possibilities in the digital space, as future agricultural innovators.