Why technology will disrupt and transform Africa’s agriculture sector
London, Feb. 11, 2018 (AltAfrika)–The sector is an engine of job creation: while the share of jobs across the food system is potentially much larger.
In Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia, the food system is projected to add more jobs than the rest of the economy between 2010 and 2025.
At the same time, Africa’s agriculture sector is facing mounting challenges.
In the coming decades, Africa’s food system will be further strained by a population that is projected to rise by 1.3 billion by 2050. And the food security challenge will only grow as climate change intensifies, threatening crop and livestock production.
If no adaptation occurs, production of maize—which is one of Africa’s staple crops—could decline by up to 40 percent by 2050. Expanding the land that is under cultivation has boosted African agricultural production in the past, but it has come at an environmental cost. Moving forward, the focus must be on intensifying production on agricultural land sustainability without harming the environment.
Clearly, business-as-usual farming is not the right way forward.
Whether it’s satellites that provide accurate climate data, Internet of Things devices like smart phones, or cutting-edge innovations like blockchain,
The World Bank is incorporating precision technology into its agriculture projects around the world. We’re exploring Internet of Things-enabled smart irrigation devices that combine automated soil water sensors and cloud-based data analytics. These devices can boost crop yields while cutting water use.
In Kenya, the World Bank is deploying big data from remote sensing and GIS-enabled technologies to support the implementation of agro-weather analytics that enable accurate weather monitoring. This data will enable small holders to know how and when to apply inputs for optimal results.
In Nigeria and Kenya, Hello Tractor is reversing the trend of low mechanization by allowing farmers to hire affordable tractors to work their land, all through their mobile phones. The start-up, which has served 22,500 farmers to date, reports a 200 percent increase in customers’ yields.
Solar refrigerators are helping dairy farmers in Kenya cool their milk products and reduce spoilage.
There’s more on the horizon. The much-hyped blockchain technology could expand rural finance by making financial transactions more accessible and less expensive, and allow farmers and others throughout the value chain to manage their supply chain more efficiently.
And as technology improves and becomes more widely available, disruption in agriculture promises to accelerate.
The above is a viewpoint from Chapter 5 of the Foresight Africa 2018 report, which explores six overarching themes that provide opportunities for Africa to overcome its obstacles and spur inclusive growth. Read the full chapter on African technology, innovation, and digital potential here.