June 16, 2017

There’s an App for That: The Role of Youth in Driving New Technologies in Agriculture

Written by Annah Latane, RTI International

This article originally appeared on Medium.

“I can’t believe how young everyone is!”

Alice Nkunzimana, president of Papyrus, a development firm in Haiti, couldn’t believe her eyes. The entire team standing in front of her looked exceptionally young. It was June 2016, and the group was assembled in Port-au-Prince for its first team meeting. Their mission: to develop and implement a new, mobile platform to help Haiti’s smallholder sorghum farmers improve their businesses and sell crops to big-ticket buyers.

“Well,” I responded. “Isn’t that who you want developing new software — young people?”

The idea that youth are typically better at adopting innovative technologies isn’t new. Hundreds of scientific studies over the past several decades have rounded out the literature around this topic, and generally point to the fact that there is a digital divide between generations.[1] Anecdotally, I’ve lost track of the number of times that a work colleague or older family member has asked for help using a relatively simply software tool. Who in this nebulous group we dub “youth” (roughly ages 18–35) hasn’t had those experiences?

RTI’s ongoing work with Papyrus in Haiti, as well as with a local youth-owned company on a pilot project in Tanzania, have shown us that channeling youths’ energy, enthusiasm, and natural capacity with technology can be a major “win” for the future of food security and agricultural development.

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