The African Green Revolution Forum has identified regional coordination and cooperation as essential to unlocking the full potential of new digital tools to boost food security and productivity.
Officials observe new digital services designed to boost African agriculture could reach 250 million farmers by 2030 but only with coordinated efforts across the continent.
According to a recent report by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) and Dalberg Advisors, investment into digital innovations has so far been piecemeal across sub-Saharan Africa, achieving only six percent penetration
But new tools aimed at smallholder farmers, such as mobile advisory services or online market platforms, could transform food production across Africa with the support and guidance of a dedicated alliance for digitalization, the authors of the report said.
Presenting the findings of the Digitalization of African Agriculture Report 2018-2019 at the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF), Director of CTA, Michael Hailu, said, an alliance for digitization will help revolutionize agriculture.
“The potential for digital technologies and innovations to transform agriculture in Africa is enormous but there is currently no mechanism to promote partnership and channel investments to scale up digitalization to reach millions of smallholder farmers."
“An alliance for digitalization bringing together governments, donors, investors, international bodies, farmer organizations and the agribusinesses should be created to advance inclusive, sustainable digitalization for agriculture across Africa.”
Mr Hailu delivered the report to the AGRF, which also recognized the growing importance of digitalization in agriculture under the theme, “Grow Digital: Leveraging digital transformation to drive sustainable food systems in Africa.”
The report highlighted key gaps in the recent growth of digitalization, including uptake among women, who account for more than 40 percent of the agricultural labour force yet makeup around only 25 percent of the registered users of digital services.
Increasing the reach of digitalization among women, together with solutions for issues such as privacy and access, could be among the topics that an alliance could champion.
“The digitalization for African agriculture market can learn a lot from the experiences of other technology sectors, including the value of tackling sector-wide, pre-competitive issues from the outset,” said Michael Tsan, partner at Dalberg Advisors and co-leader of the firm’s global Digital and Data Practice.
“By sharing knowledge and developing partnerships, we can establish best practices that quickly allows the scaling up of effective digital innovations so that all of sub-Saharan Africa can benefit.”
During the AGRF, CTA also hosts the finals of its Pitch AgriHack competition, inviting entrepreneurs and innovators to present their start-up ideas that could help drive the transformation of African agriculture. Seven prizes will be awarded, each including 15,000 EUROS as well as business growth support.
CTA is a joint international institution of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States and the European Union (EU) and operates under the framework of the Cotonou Agreement and funded by the EU.
It works to advance food security, resilience and inclusive economic growth in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific through innovations in sustainable agriculture.