Digital Solutions - The future of African Agriculture

  • 07 Mei 2021
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  • news

The African continent alone is expected to have a population of 2 billion people by then, for the continent to maintain and support food security, farm productivity in African countries must increase a lot faster than the global average to avoid continued mass hunger.

The adoption of digital farming solutions in agricultural practices across Africa will be the difference in bridging the productivity gap. Digital solutions in agriculture include the incorporation of tailored, location-specific information regarding weather forecasts, pests and disease and crop to increase precision agriculture and reduce production risks. These data-driven practices, which integrate advanced technologies, such as artificial intelligence and Internet of Things, are also expected to bring more businesses into the sector due to their ability to streamline farming operations, scale down labour intensiveness and optimise farming businesses across the continent.

On the other hand, the agriculture sector in African countries still faces various challenges in terms of its sustainability and actual use of digital solutions and services. One of the most prevalent cases against the fast development of technological solutions to African farming remains accessibility. A large portion of the African farming community is made up of emerging and subsistence farmers who do not necessarily have neither the funds nor the exposure to the digital advancements. Finding ways to bridge the gap between those who do and those who do not could elevate Africa’s plight to strengthen food security in the continent. 

According to a Global System for Mobile Communications report, (GSMA) there are 437 information and communications technology and digital solutions actively operating in the African agriculture space which means that while technology adoption in African agriculture might be slower, it is indeed happening. The data indicates that African farmers are positive and receptive to the idea of incorporating technology into their practices. 

Olukemi Afun-Odigan, Principal Agribusiness officer at The African Development Bank group reckons the issue of accessibility to digital solutions is more a legislative issue than anything else. “To achieve scale in Africa and ensure that digital technologies reach and benefit every last farmer, requires a policy and regulatory framework that enables innovation to thrive. Governments also need to invest in digital infrastructure and technology.”