Digital Revolution of Agriculture in Africa
Africa is described as the home of agriculture largely because of the immense land available for agriculture and its abundant population that serves as a ready market to buy agricultural produce.
History of Agriculture in Africa
The Agricultural sector of Africa has experienced tremendous success over the last decade and will continue to grow in the sector invests in financial and infrastructural aspects that are considered to be major factors that may diminish the success rate of agriculture in Africa.
The agricultural sector of Africa is urged to invest in infrastructural development. Most notably, storage facilities to enable food products to last a long time. Storage infrastructures like; barns, silos and others. Again, another challenge experienced by farmers is the financial constraint. Intending farmers lack the capital to engage in farming, they lack proper capital to produce output. This goes beyond affecting the quality of seeds that are used to the number of fertilizers used in growing crops. Studies show that the amount of fertilizer application in Africa is about 25 kilograms per hectare (and this has no beneficial effect as there is no significant increase in crop yield), in comparison with the normal application amount which is between 250 and 350 kilograms per hectare.
The Relevance of Agriculture in Africa
As the population of Africa increases, thus leading to the creation of a larger market and a greater demand for food production, the agricultural industry will benefit greatly from a change in the use of subsistence methods of farming to the commercial method which employs the use of mechanized tools such as tractors in order to meet the food production required by the growing population. This would be appreciated more if roads are expanded, market networks and uninterrupted electrical power are provided. The use of modern technology in farming has succeeded in achieving food security in some parts of Africa. Slowly, it would get to other parts too. A list of mechanized technology in use includes but are not limited to seed varieties, herbicides and pesticides. The mechanized system has succeeded in increasing agricultural production without the need to use any form of genetically modified seeds.
The Digital Revolution of Agriculture
Today, the world is regarded as a digital marketplace. The digital revolution has slowly transformed almost every sector of the world’s economy, including agriculture. Agriculture has now grown beyond the mechanized tools to digital technologies. GPS technology, precision agriculture, robots, temperature and moisture sensors are now being used to increase the productivity and profitability of farmers across continents, including Africa. Utilizing digital technology in African agriculture is a very important step in helping Africa solve her ‘hunger and malnutrition problems.
The use of mobile phones has been adapted as an Agricultural technology. Whereby, it is not just used as a means of communicating with the farmers but as a method by which data is collected, soil conditions are analyzed and also, fertilizer application and climate change are communicated. The climate alerts have helped farmers avoid losses by helping them know what to plant and when to plant. It also allows farmers to order seeds through text, watch videos on new farming techniques, and get information on market prices. Mobile phones are also used to take report notes to enable farmers to understand the progression in their businesses.
- Wefarm, a network that brings together small-scale farmers in Africa via mobile phone has helped farmers greatly. The technology allows Farmers to communicate ideas among themselves. By just sending a simple text, farmers can get help from each other. If a farmer’s goat fell sick and he has no idea what to do about it, he goes on the platform and explains the symptoms his goat is experiencing. In a few minutes, other farmers on the platform would provide help, telling him the drug that would help the goat feel better. The information and advice shared among farmers on this platform have helped them avoid losses. This technology is available in Kenya.
- ThriveAgric, a fast-growing agrotech company, provides a technology that is sure to make farming easier for small scale farmers who lack the financial capacity to sustain their farming business, as they are unable to purchase modern tools needed for the business. The technology allows individuals (investors) who have the investable income to fund farmers who don’t have the financial means to do fund farming themselves. Just like all other forms of investment, the investors make a profit.
- Twiga Foods, a Kenyan company is aimed towards solving accessibility to the market. This technology links farmers in rural areas to small scale vendors. This allows these farmers to sell off their farm produce easily.
Despite the continuous growth in the world’s population, with the establishment of Agro Tech companies across the world, one can say that we are well on the way towards food security. Agrotech companies such as Zenvus, TroTro, Kitovu, ThriveAgric and Farmcrowdy have contributed to making farming in Africa successful; through focusing on small scale farmers that need some form of assistance.
Some of these companies use technologies such as IoT, Machine Learning, and Artificial Intelligence to power farm equipment sharing applications that enable tractor owners to be connected with smallholder farmers. This allows tractor owners to ensure the safety of the tractors by tracking the tractors. This application also makes it easier for smallholder farmers to have access to tractor services.
The availability of food is one of the pressing needs in most African countries. The application of digital technology in Agriculture in Africa holds great promises. Digital technology would enable farmers to have access to funding, Agrotech companies, and quality information and mechanized tools. All these make farming easier and ensures that farm products are able to meet the needs of the growing population of Africa. It also ensures that the farmers make a profit of the business. Agrotech companies across the world promise to bring a great transformation in the future of agriculture in Africa.