Digitalization has significantly transformed all sector of economic development in the world, especially Africa; majorly in the agricultural sector. We cannot imagine how backward we will be in Africa if we have not take the bold step to embrace digitalization or Digital technology.
In developing countries, where digitalization is early embraced, we could attest to the level of transformation they have experiences in different sector of their economy especially in agricultural sector.
Digitalization has not only contributed to the economy development of nations, but it has greatly improved the individual lifestyle of the people making work easy and less stressful.
Agriculture on the African continent has experience slow growth due to the system or ancient approach to it. Farmers don’t have access to modernized farming tools, no drone for farm mapping, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology, crop and soil sensing, weed sensing, disease sensing etc.
In 2017, some agricultural and research institutions came together to chart the new course of how to digitalize agriculture in Africa. Amongst these institutions are CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security in east Africa (CCAFS EA), the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT) Ethiopia, and Ethiopian Agricultural Research Center’s (EIAR).
The primary aim of these meeting is to explore the opportunities that digital agriculture presents and the existing challenges on ground that needs to be taken into consideration.
Today, in Africa entrepreneurs are now interested in how productive farmers are, and how they can further improve on their productivity. They have come up with a lot of solutions from cloud computing system to connectivity open source software. Now, there are aerial images from satellites or drones, weather forecasts, and soil sensors, making it a lot easier for farmers to manage their crops in real time. This automated system gives early warning if there are abnormality crop growths amongst other factors.
Farmcenta, a Nigerian agric-tech startup giving investors and individual that are interested in sponsoring a farm, is providing a solution on crop scouting/monitoring, crop count, Irrigation and drainage inspection, farm mapping, crop health analysis, crop spraying, fertilizer application and weather forecast to smoothly run their farms.
Zenvus, another Nigerian precision farming startup, which provide a solution to measures and analyzes solid data like temperature, nutrients, and vegetative health to help farmers apply the right fertilizer and optimally irrigate their farms. Ujuzkilimo, a Kenyan startup, uses big data and analytical capabilities to transform farmers into a knowledge-based community, with the goal of improving productivity through precision insights is providing technological solutions
Digitalization has also given birth to financial solutions specifically designed for farmers;
e.g, M-Farm and Cameroon’s AgroSpaces provide pricing data to remove price asymmetry between farmers and buyers, making it possible for farmers to earn more. FarmDrive, a Kenyan enterprise, connects unbanked and underserved smallholder farmers to credit, while helping financial institutions cost-effectively increase their agricultural loan portfolios.
Sokopepe uses SMS and web tools to offer market information and farm record management services to farmers. Ghana-based Farmerline and AgroCenta deploy mobile and web technologies that bring farming advice, weather forecasts, market information, and financial tips to farmers, who are traditionally out of reach, due to barriers in connectivity, literacy, or language.