Sustainable Farming in South Africa
The AgriTourZA Limpopo is an initiative that will showcase 20 innovative South African youth creating apps for sustainable farming in South Africa. The South Africa Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), mLab South Africa and the Council for Scientific Research (CSIR) will select four of the 20 finalists. These finalists will create a sustainable ecosystem for farming and travel in Limpopo, South Africa.

Closing the Digital Gap in Africa’s Farming Community

Africa is continuing to evolve digitally as more advancements in mobile technology improve communities in the economic and work sector. However, developing countries are still behind in gaining the resources necessary to use technology like mobile phones, which can help with communication and benefit the farming industry. In the past few decades, farmers in Africa experienced successful advancements like access to affordable mobile phones. These mobile phones provide apps that improve access to vital services like mobile banking. Mobile phones also make it easier for farmers to receive weather alerts and marketing opportunities.

Despite these technological advancements for farmers, there is still a need for digital integration within rural farming communities in Africa. Three South African organizations are working together to shine a light on the local tech developers creating effective solutions that benefit the farming communities in Africa.

Supportive Organizations Guiding Future Tech Innovators

The Southern Africa Mobile Applications Laboratory (mLab) is a nonprofit organization with an aim to support innovative startups in the technology field. It currently holds an open innovation lab with programs assisting youth in skill development and co-creation sessons with industry partners. mLab’s 2014 report showed that its startups created jobs for participants. Furthermore, mLab has aided sustainable farming in South Africa as farmers connected to its local markets earned an additional $155 per month, adding up to $2.7 million a year. mLab is actively looking for startups aimed at making a social impact. One of these is AgriTourZA, an organization involving youth.

The South Africa Science and Innovation Department (DSI) provides leadership and resources for science, technology and innovation within South Africa to further strengthen the country’s development. Its latest achievements include opening an Information and Communications Technology (ICT) building in Limpopo’s Sekhukhune Technical College. The ICT building is a multimedia center with a design to assist the school’s visually impaired students.

Along with mLab and DSI, the Council for Scientific Research in South Africa (CSIR) also works towards accelerating technological advancements in South Africa. Beginning in 1945, through an Act of Parliament, the organization is continuing to accomplish scientific development. This has occurred through research, innovation, socio-economic transformation and building human capital and infrastructure for South Africa. With the help of the CSIR and DSI, mLab will help bring AgriTourZA finalists to the Startup Accelerator Program where participants will get the chance to see their startups become real-world solutions that serve their communities.

AgriTourZA

The AgriTourZA Limpopo Innovation Platform will bring young technologists to the forefront with their tech-centered creations aimed to improve conditions for farmers across Africa. Four of the 20 participants will become finalists in the Accelerator Program with the opportunity to start on their projects and contribute to real-world solutions for their communities. They will also gain technical, business and soft skills to successfully bring their ideas to the market. Additionally, the chosen contestants will receive mentoring from mLab to develop and achieve success in their solutions. The 20 participating startups include Nosetsa, Riverside Tech Solutions, Easy Farming, CODECS, Software Fanatics and several others.

mLab’s provincial coordinator Palesa Anthony says South Africa’s local youth have the drive and insight to solve the region’s unique challenges in today’s agriculture. These startups will contribute to lessening the digital gap between Africa’s farming community and the rapidly evolving technology happening.

These digital solutions can bring innovation and ease to farmers who lack resources to connect with other farmers and provide farming solutions in South Africa so they can enter more lucrative and profitable positions. On the other hand, Africa’s youth will have an opportunity to gain lifelong skills within the technology and business sector by building their skills in the program.

Nia Owens
Photo: Wikipedia Commons