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An ICT conference with a difference. That was the unanimous verdict at the end of the ICT4Ag meeting with the theme ‘The Digital Springboard for Inclusive Agriculture’ in Rwanda that amply demonstrated that farming in Africa will never be the same again.

When the showpiece of the gala event was unveiled with the announcement of the winners of the hackathon (also known as the Agrihack championships) and media awards, it became abundantly clear that the techies had carried the night.

It appears the script must have been written well before to forge a distinct linkage between ICTs and agriculture from a global perspective, as the programme kicked off with a Plug and Play Day offering “a fantastic opportunity for a valuable and very practical insight into the latest technological developments in the field of ICTs”.

“We techies are here…with ministers, policymakers and everybody else. We’ve made it. I was so excited to see so many women involved in creating new technologies,” said Rebecca Enonchong, founder and CEO of AppsTech, which provides enterprise application solutions to clients in 50 countries.

“We techies are here…with ministers, policymakers and everybody else. We’ve made it. I was so excited to see so many women involved in creating new technologies.”

Rebecca Enonchong,  AppsTech

Enonchong told the ICT experts that App techies are at the central part of generating economic growth and the conference had recognised what they do as she quoted Albert Einstein: “Logic will take you from A to B; imagination will take you everywhere.”

Ensibuko, Uganda, were declared the hackathon winners for designing a web and mobile application that enables savings and credit cooperatives of smallholder rural farmers to mobilise savings and receive and disburse loans. MAgric of Ethiopia was second with their AgriVas radio information resource centre. The all-women Ugandan team Agrinfo, was third for developing a web-based and mobile geographic information system for mapping farms and lands.

The media competition winner was Kenya’s Joshua Masinde,  Arison Mbuli Tamfu of Cameroon was second and Fidelis Zvomuyu of Zimbabwe was third.  The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA), organizers and partners of t

he event, believe that the conference was a success as does Agnes Kalibata, minister of Rwanda’s Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources — the host.

 “[The event] linked people who often don’t come together in the same forum - farmers and ICT experts,” said CTA director Michael Hailu.

Kalibata added “A very cool field, ICT has been married to a not so-cool field, agriculture,”

CTA’s ICT guru Giacomo Rambaldi concluded: “Conferences this size are nearly always PowerPoint-led, but right from the outset we decided that this one would be different, with interaction at its core”.

The Kigali ICT4Ag conference was an exposition of the dramatic change offering great opportunities for African agriculture to become more cost-effective, efficient and more timely in adopting practices for harmony between ICTs and farming.

This article has been produced by SciDev.Net's Sub-Saharan Africa desk.