this-mobile-app-fights-hunger-in-africaSub-Saharan Africa has the highest prevalence of undernourishment, with poverty being the leading cause of hunger. One invention increasing agricultural efficiency to fight back against hunger is the Farm to Market Alliance (FtMA) app. The app fights hunger in Africa by acting as a communication system for farmers to connect with one another and as an educational system for farmers to understand the market.

What Causes Hunger in Africa?

According to the U.N., approximately 21% of people in Africa suffered from hunger in 2020. Even further, the cost of food is also on the rise, up 42% from 2016. A number of factors contribute to these troubling statistics:

  • Poverty is the leading cause of hunger, resulting in an inability to afford sufficient food.
  • Conflict places constraints on employment opportunities and subsequently inhibits a person’s ability to acquire food. Conflict can also impact the import and export of food, leading to limited food access.
  • The environment, as environmental challenges such as erosion, drought and water shortages can have grave impacts on food security.
  • Poor governance and policies can lead to insufficient food access.
  • Population growth can limit increases in per capita income, causing hunger.

Creating an Alliance

Though reducing hunger is not easy, increasing agricultural productivity in developing countries is critical to chipping away at the problem. Growth in agriculture is two to four times more effective than growth in other sectors at raising income and subsequently, reducing hunger.  

Motivated by the promise of agricultural improvements serving as a counter to growing hunger rates in Africa, six agricultural-focused organizations — the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), Bayer, Rabobank, Syngenta, United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and Yara International ASA — banded together to create the FtMA in 2016. The goal of the Alliance is to help make a sustainable agricultural sector that empowers farmers, builds strong markets and improves food security in Africa.

FtMA helps African farming families transition to commercial agriculture by leveraging the knowledge and experience of the world’s agricultural experts. In addition, FtMA looks to form local private sector partnerships that deliver a wide range of products and services to farmers.

As a result, the smallholder farmers can confidently plan, grow, store and sell their crops, maximizing the productivity and profitability of their yield.

Getting Technical

To reach as many farmers as possible, the Alliance launched the FtMA app. The app fights hunger in Africa through its many functions, including acting as a platform for ecosystem workers to offer their services, a communication tool to connect farmers, and, in the future, a method of payment to digitize transactions, according to WFP.

The FtMA app also fights hunger in Africa by providing modules for commodity aggregation, input and equipment ordering, loan applications and more currently under development. In addition, to help the farmers’ relationships with suppliers, the app keeps records of farmers’ activities and creates a credit history that financiers can use to provide loans.

The app aims to build upon the success of the Farm to Market Alliance, which has helped over 223,000 farmers since 2016, according to its website. By going digital, the app fights hunger in Africa by connecting farmers, organizing their work and, most importantly, empowering farmers as they face the difficult task of providing for those who are hungry.

Sarah DiLuzio
Photo: Flickr

Improve Agriculture in Africa
Agriculture in Africa is a major contributor to the continent’s economy. Africa has ideal farming conditions with large amounts of freshwater. Furthermore, it has about 65% of the world’s uncultivated arable land and an estimated 300 days of sunshine. Agriculture is able to boost trade, feed the hungry and help end poverty. Many countries in Africa began to invest in agriculture through the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP). Some of these countries are Zambia, Niger, Togo, Mali and Ghana. Additionally, communities have recognized that agriculture has the potential to create jobs, improve food security, sustainable resources and so much more. Farming in Africa has become a major focal point due to these benefits. As a result, an app is attempting to improve agriculture in Africa.

Smallholder Farms

A smallholder farmer is a person who works on a small piece of land growing crops. Many of these farmers grow crops and farm livestock. Families typically run the farms and those farms are often their main source of income. There are more than 500 million smallholder farms around the world. Furthermore, the farms contribute to about 75% of the continent’s agriculture production and 50% of livestock products.

Despite having suitable land for farming, a lot of the older generations in Africa discourage their children from farming. The land has the ability to grow an abundance of crops, yet African countries spend close to $65 billion importing food. The African Development Bank stated that the key to improving the economy is to focus more on farmers and providing better equipment, knowledge, training and technology.

The App for Farmers

About 33 million smallholder farmers exist in sub-Saharan Africa. Thus, as mobile phone usage has been increasing, The Haller Foundation created an app,  Haller Farmers, to reach these farmers and improve agriculture in Africa. The app underwent testing at the Foundation’s demonstration plot in Mombasa, Kenya and researchers found that it would be able to help farms.

The majority of smallholder farmers in Africa have limited access to agricultural skills, technology and knowledge. Haller Farmers includes more than 60 years of farming experience that are low-cost and organic. In addition, the app is easy for people to use. The app is free to download from the Google Play store and farmers can download the practices so users do not have to connect to WiFi or use data.

Haller Farmers provides smallholder farmers with information in English and Swahili. Here are examples of some of the resources the app offers:

  • Low cost and organic farming techniques
  • Innovative ideas
  • Step-by-step instructions
  • Conservation information
  • Techniques for crops that require minimal water
  • Haller team contact
  • Encouragement for youth farming

The purpose of the app is to aid smallholder farmers and improve agriculture in Africa, provide choices that can improve ecosystems and re-empower the farmers. Furthermore, farmers will be able to receive high-quality farming techniques and information as phone accessibility increases. About 48% of the population relies on agriculture in Africa. Thus, it is necessary to continue helping the continent’s farmers in innovative ways to bring reliable information and tools to the agricultural population.

– Sarah Kirchner
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

African Vegetable StaplesAfrica has millions of hectares of viable land for large-scale agricultural operations. Many large regions of Africa are the last locations on the planet with large plots of land rich in soil nutrients and water sufficiency. New government infrastructure, a global investment and advanced technology has allowed sub-Saharan African farmers to raise crop yield. The agriculture industry is the most viable way to feed families on a small scale in villages. African vegetable staples are important as they are the bulk of the famous nutritional African diet.

Approximately 65% of the African labor force involves itself in agriculture, with the agriculture industry accounting for 32% of the region’s GDP. Governments have attempted to increase crop yield by utilizing agriculture marketing boards in order to provide more stable and standardized prices, credit extension services, technology and improved seeds. Additionally, more companies in the private sector have improved rural marketing and supply lines. These advances in extension services improve land and water management, introduce new farming techniques and provide new, efficient technology.

Essential African Vegetable Staples

Essential African vegetable staples include yams, green bananas, plantains and cassava. There are a plethora of different and unique ways of preparing dishes particular to each region and culture. Vegetables such as beans and lentils accompany almost every meal in order to provide a balanced nutritious diet. People in Africa consider meat a side dish rather than the main dish, and vegetables the main dish. Typical African vegetable staples specific to a region are dependent on the location, land viability, soil richness and water availability. Rice is more common where there is more water whereas cash crops such as groundnut are common in every household.

Many African staple foods provide a base diet for African families. African vegetable staples provide the necessary proteins, vitamins and nutrients that combat the alarming, wide-scale malnutrition issues that run rampant in many small villages that are not connected to large cities. With no access to large-scale trade or industrial resources, villagers take care of each other with personal farms. Additionally, many African vegetables also double as medicinal uses as well, allowing improved community health and nutrition.

Many staple meals accompany African’s rich variety of culture and history. The thousands of various African cultures utilize varieties of spices to prepare the same ingredient to uphold their respective traditional values and ideas. Diverse food choices are unique in each region and can range from fermented beans, sweet potato greens, teff and varieties of dumplings, to corn-based porridges, millet, kenkey, fontou and fonio. The diverse sets of languages within each region also have their own unique menus specific to their culture and certain traditions.

Case Study: The Democratic Republic of Congo

Vegetables grown in the DRC include peanuts, yams, beans, peas and maize. The political instability of the DRC has led to problems of malnutrition and lack of food access for millions of people. However, vegetables are used as an efficient solution because of the mass remote lands DRC controls for horticulture. The agriculture industry supports more than half of the DRC population. Although farming provides less than 10% of DRC’s GDP, land use is minimal to only 3.5% of DRC’s land and accounts for over 50 tons of subsistence foodstuffs.

What Next?

African vegetables have been the bulk of the African diet for millennia. Not only is it an efficient and effective way of utilizing rich soil and plentiful land on the continent, but it is also one of the most viable ways to aid the economy while doing so. Vegetables in Africa are the staple food not just for the famous nutritious diets, but also because they are an important characteristic of African identity and culture. Many African recipes eaten today have passed down generation after generation in an effort to maintain and uphold tradition. The African vegetable staples are one of the most unique characteristics of African culture and are a testament to their devotion to their diverse ideas and traditions.

Aria Ma
Photo: Flickr

African Agritech Startups
The World Bank predicts that agribusiness in Africa will grow to become a $1 trillion industry by 2030. This growth impacts poverty reduction efforts. For every 1 percent increase in agricultural GDP, poverty in the region decreases by 1 percent. Food security and stable growth in the region can be obtained by investments in agriculture. Specifically, a large branch of agriculture business on the rise is agricultural-tech in Sub-Saharan Africa. With African agritech startups launching in 2010, exponential growth has been seen since. 

Agritech companies, or disruptive agricultural technologies (DATs), aim to develop solutions to ongoing issues in the form of solar devices, mobile apps and even bio-fortified foods. These companies help farmers in two ways: increasing produce yield by 3-5x the baseline and/or connecting farmers directly to buyers and affordable equipment, effectively cutting out the middleman. These technological advances help farmers increase their output, efficiency and access to markets. With the help of agritech, farmers can combat a lack of regional resources and reduce poverty.

5 African Agritech Startups Tackling Poverty

  1. Kitovu is a Nigerian based mobile app that was launched in 2016. The startup’s goal is to help farmers increase their crop yield while guaranteeing sales directly to buyers. Kitovu’s primary motivation evolved from post-harvest loss and waste occurring in roughly 40 percent of crops. This waste is partly due to small farmers being required to sell their goods through intermediaries who take a large portion of the profit. To reduce loss and decrease corruption, Kitovu connects farmers directly to processing companies and relevant consumers. With this information, farmers use Kitovu’s FarmPack to provide insight into the purchase of crop-specific fertilizers, appropriate seeds and agrochemicals. Kitovu also has a user exchange feature, called FarmSwap, that allows farmers to trade produce, thus gaining additional funding through inputs financing. Lastly, Kitovu offers a third feature, called eProcure, to help farmers with various supply chain needs, including exportation and necessary operational machinery.
  2. Agrocenta is a four-tiered software platform founded in Ghana in 2015. Similar to Kitovu, Agrocenta seeks to solve a common barrier to farmers: a lack of access to buyers and financing options. Four distinct platforms are offered. AgroTrade simulates an active marketplace that connects farmers of staples directly to buyers. AgroPay creates a reliable log for various products. AgroInfo delivers industry news such as crop prices and weather updates. Finally, Truckr partners directly with Ghana Private Road Transport Union to ensure drivers deliver goods efficiently. With these services, Agrocenta services more than 46,000 individual farmers.
  3. AgriPredict is a Zambian-based agritech company created by CEO Mwila Kangwa that utilizes AI to help around 22,000 farmers manage risks of environmental disasters, including drought, pests and crop diseases. This mobile app and web-based platform predicts weather patterns and identifies crop diseases through machine learning. A farmer will take a photo of the diseased crop and upload it to the app where the output will be a real-time diagnosis, treatment options and a location of the nearest agricultural supply store. Additionally, AgriPredict has a tool that helps farmers estimate their yield of a specific plot of land.
  4. Yellow Beast Tech is aiming to solve severe water shortages, like the shortages that plagued South Africa from 2015 to 2018. During this time, city dam water levels fell below the typical level by 13.5 percent. Founded by civil engineers, Pontisho Molestane and Matebele Moshoni, the company invents, manufactures, sells and installs irrigation systems aimed to limit water waste. Additionally, the device uses AI to analyze the most optimal conditions for the soil-crop system to aid farmers in maximizing crop yield while limiting water usage.
  5. Hello Tractor, a mobile app, was founded in 2015 to provide affordable equipment to farmers in Nigeria and Kenya. The app connects tractor owners, small-scale farmers, banks and dealers to locate the best solutions. A monitoring device is first attached to the tractor and connected to the cloud. Relevant data is transmitted to stakeholders to optimize agricultural business networking and production. According to the company, 22,500 farmers have been served to date. Further, these farmers see about a 200 percent increase in crop yield.

African agritech startups show promise for the continent by addressing the needs of the ever-increasing population. Not only do these five startups provide an innovative approach to addressing systemic issues in the sector, but concrete solutions to food security and poverty as well.

– Danielle Barnes
Photo: Flickr

Digital Solutions
Many countries in Africa suffer from food insecurity for a variety of reasons; most link back to unstable agricultural food sources. Traditionally, most farmers had no means of recovering from natural disasters, such as floods and wildfires. Other outside factors, such as a country’s political state and poor education, can also contribute to poor agricultural yields. Further, while these issues still remain, the creation of numerous digital solutions could help alleviate these problems. Digital solutions can benefit agriculture in Africa and positively impact Africa’s near future.

Digitalization for Agriculture

The use of applications has risen in Africa’s agricultural sector. This includes the use of text messaging to deliver economic advice to smaller farmers. Another way is through the use of interactive voice response to connect farmers with potential buyers and other farmers. These solutions allow farmers to expand their market, while also increasing the number of connections between farmers within a given area.

The digital solutions market in Africa is fairly new, with over 60 percent of the market established within the past three years and 20 percent started in 2018. However, the digital market has not been as beneficial to small independent farm owners. These small farm owners make up around 80 percent of Africa’s agricultural production. Despite this, digital solutions have proven to improve crop yields by up to 300 percent and increase income by up to double what farmers previously made.

How Digital Solutions Help the Economy

Digital solutions not only help farmers through increased market size, but they also provide helpful advice such as weather alerts or advice on which crops will grow well given a country’s climate or season. Additionally, technology can also act as a channel for farmers to innovate new and sustainable ways to improve yields and reduce crop loss in the future.

On top of this, with a new and expanding market for digital solutions for agriculture in Africa, this will inevitably lead to new jobs in the agricultural technology sector. While the amount of small, independent farmers who have access to a mobile device is currently low, Africa is nearing universal phone access within the coming years, which will further expand the digital solutions market.

Nonprofits for a Cause

Some nonprofits have also helped improve the livelihood of independent farmers, such as Self Help Africa. Self Help Africa specializes in creating business ties between distant rural farmers to markets and producer groups. These efforts help rural farmers adapt to the climate and cope with threats of natural disasters. Further, Self Help Africa assists in connecting rural farmers to microfinancing services, improving economic responsibility.

The group also specializes in providing aid for independent women who make up the majority of the workforce for agriculture in Africa. Women do over 80 percent of small scale farm work in Africa; however, these women also only receive a fraction of the support. Some of these benefits are growing increasingly more common due to Africa’s growing digital marketplace for agriculture. However, Self Help Africa’s fight for gender equality will always remain important for females working in small market agricultural systems.

Agriculture in Africa is crucial for providing African citizens with a stable and reliable source of food. With improving tools, more Africans can be successful in their agricultural endeavors. Issues such as flooding, poor connections and knowledge used to be major hindrances to some food suppliers. However, with increasing knowledge of agricultural techniques and increasing market connections, the future of agriculture is looking much brighter for small, independent farmers.

Andrew Lueker
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Agriculture in AfricaAgriculture in Africa is the cornerstone of sub-Saharan Africa, generating almost 23 percent of the continent’s GDP. Here, women are the backbone of the industry; yet, one in every four malnourished people in the world lives in Africa, and land laws are not as favorable to women as they are to men. The country-led initiative, Grow Africa, and the U.K. based charity, Farm Africa, are working to fix these disparities to help Africa reach its potential. Here are 10 facts about agriculture in Africa.

Top 10 Facts About Agriculture in Africa

  1. Agriculture is one of the most beneficial assets a country can have. It creates more jobs and helps eliminate poverty and hunger, which are immediate problems Africa is facing. Africa’s population will nearly double by 2050 and quadruple by 2100, making it harder to feed communities and generate wealth, but agriculture in Africa has the potential to flourish. In fact, Africa can add 20 percent more grain to the 2.6 billion tons of worldwide production, and nearly the same amount of fruits and vegetables. Agriculture also has the greatest potential to bring about gender and class equality by providing a source of income for women and the poor.
  2. Women in Africa represent nearly 70 percent of the workforce in agriculture and contribute up to 90 percent of the labor, but many women lose land after losing a husband. In fact, in Zambia, nearly 33 percent of widows lose access to family land. Unlike women, men have greater access to productive resources and therefore produce more per acre. By giving women access to resources, agriculture in Africa can produce up to 30 percent more and reduce hunger by 12 to 17 percent. In other words, women in Africa have the potential to feed as much as 150 million people.
  3. Changing the law is not the only answer to closing the gender gap in land ownership, it also requires social change and awareness. In Mozambique, a country in southeastern Africa, women have access to land and property (land law of 1997). However, implementation of the law took time due to traditional courts abiding by customary rules. This follows men being the head of their house and land. In Ghana, there are two laws from 1985 with goals of ensuring widows consent and benefit from selling family land, but not enough women are aware of the laws. Currently, several U.N. agencies are working to strengthen laws in African countries, re-shape social norms and raise awareness of women’s rights. This includes a Joint Programme on Accelerating Progress towards the Economic Empowerment of Rural Women. They aid more than 40 thousand women with training and enhancing their access to financial services and markets.
  4. Smallholder farms are family farms that are less than seven acres and form 80 percent of Africa’s farmland. There are 33 million family farms that are under four acres in Africa. Research shows that job creation is better capitalized, and investors receive more for their money on smallholder farms than industrial farms. Many farmers in Zambia,  have over 24 acres of land and direct access to markets and inputs such as fertilizer. On the other hand, larger family farms with good soil and access to markets are considered low risk due to receiving aid. Included are welfare, cheaper food and crop insurance. This allows farmers to take risks and increase productivity, such as growing crops for profit. Low risk means access to credit and therefore valuable inputs that will increase yield. The success of many farms depends on financing and resources.
  5. A crucial resource to increasing Africa’s production and growth is giving farmers access to more inputs. Many farmers use traditional farming methods, such as animal waste or cover crops for fertilizer. Despite these efforts, they are still unable to replenish their soil. Many do not have access to synthetic fertilizers or pesticides if they need them and cannot afford irrigation pumps. In fact, only six percent of arable land in Africa is irrigated. Producing more food, such as grain in Africa requires investment.  In order for maximum output of crops, there should be approximately eight times more fertilizer, six times better seeds and funding of $8 billion for storage and $65 billion for irrigation.
  6. According to the U.N., foreign investment contracts in Africa have seized nearly 50 million acres of land. However, these acts were not always conducted diligently or openly. Although some sources suggest that there is ample land for the taking, local indigenous people are often overlooked as viable owners. Additionally, much of the land in Africa is unattainable. About 50 to 70 million acres in nine countries in sub-Saharan Africa are arable, while the rest is lost to poor infrastructure, conflict zones, or under forest cover and conservation.
  7. Grow Africa’s mission is to increase private sector investments in agriculture in Africa, which addresses obstacles beyond the number of inputs. Rising urbanization and transportation reduce costs in transporting goods to markets. Investing in infrastructure would not only improve transportation but also intensify local competition. Additionally, it would allow access to arable land and create an efficient and profitable market. After stakeholders invested in agriculture in 11 African countries, poverty and hunger rates dropped and production rates increased.
  8. Farm Africa’s initiative is to improve smallholder farm practices and alleviate poverty starts with the stakeholders. The farmers along with agribusinesses, private investors, national research centers and the government are all vital resources which help farmers. They all aid in implementing technologies that increase resilient and productive outputs. In addition, Growing Futures encourage farms to work together to aggregate high-quality crops. It also promotes creating business plans and selling in bulk at higher prices. Farmers taking part in the project have are experiencing income increases. On average, average income has increased by 49.5 percent. In Elgeyo-Marakwet, Kenya, there are 446 farmers across 23 farms whose income accumulate as high as $210 thousand.
  9. Climate is a deciding factor in the success or failure of a farm. Most of the continent’s irrigation resides in only five of the 54 countries, making farmers more vulnerable to weather fluctuations. Farm Africa provides forecasts, insurance and small-scale irrigation systems to protect farmers against unexpected weather events.
  10. Farm Africa gives farmers access to important inputs. For example, fertilizers, drought-tolerant or disease-resistant seeds, and storage for their crops. Kenyan native, Lucy Marani, is a smallholder farmer who grew garden-variety peas to sell locally before finding financial security by diversifying her crops and switching to a more profitable seed that appeals to domestic and international markets. In 2018, Farm Africa fundraised raised $522 thousand. These funds aided Marani and two thousand other farmers in achieving security and success.

Improving agriculture in Africa not only addresses food instability. In fact, it is likely to bring about political rights, a steady economy and lower rates of poverty.

– Emma Uk
Photo: Flickr

Livestock Health in AfricaThe most vital aspect of creating a sustainable environment for the future of African people is supporting and maintaining one of its most powerful industries: agriculture. The agriculture industry comprises fisheries, wildlife, livestock and farm production, accounting for 35 percent of the continent’s entire GDP. Livestock alone makes up 30 percent of the agricultural GDP, making it a crucial component of Africa’s economy.

Ensuring good livestock health in Africa is not easy. Herds often face extreme weather conditions, zoonotic diseases and malnourishment making it difficult to maintain successful farms. Some of these diseases, such as the African swine fever, Brucellosis, Fowl Pox and Rift Valley fever can wipe out entire herds and livestock if left untreated. Many of these zoonotic diseases can be linked to human epidemics as well, contributing to millions of human deaths. A decrease in livestock production due to disease, weather and malnourishment means food shortages and increasing poverty and disease across Africa.

5 Ways Veterinary Care Improves Livestock Health in Africa

With the African economy relying so heavily on livestock and agricultural production, the need for access to veterinary care has become a top priority. The number of trained veterinarians increased in African countries over the past few years for several reasons. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and a number of nonprofits and government organizations are working together to provide African countries with veterinary assistance. Together, they hope to improve livestock health for a sustainable agriculture industry. Here are just a few initiatives to promote veterinary services:

  1. USAID provides fundings for veterinary training
    Through the USAID supported program Feed the Future Livestock for Growth (L4G) farmers in rural Mali can receive free training to become auxiliary veterinarians. This program provides farmers the opportunity to acquire medical training, professional development, superior animal care techniques, vaccines and medical equipment. The veterinarians can then provide quality livestock care to their entire community. Since 2015, L4G has successfully trained 79 auxiliary veterinarians in Mali, improving conditions in 76,000 households in over 800 communities. L4G has also increased vaccine security from 10 percent to 22 percent, saving half a million animals from disease. The Feed the Future initiative alone estimates that over 5 million people are no longer living in hunger and $10 billion has been generated by the agricultural industry since 2011.
  2. FAO and the European Union strengthen veterinary support
    The Strengthening of Livestock Services in Angola (SANGA) project is an FAO and EU initiative. It accelerates medical services for livestock and increases veterinary training for animal health auxiliaries in Angola. This project combines efforts of both public veterinary services and private animal auxiliary programs. SANGA develops a sustainable practice throughout the country to improve livestock health and eliminate food insecurity. SANGA hopes to use its resources to train 120 animal health auxiliaries and 20 veterinary technicians.
  3. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation supports livestock production
    In 2017, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation awarded a 14.4 million dollar grant to the animal health company Zoetis. Over three years, these funds will support animal health technology and veterinary services through the African Livestock Productivity and Health Advancement (ALPHA) initiative in Eastern Africa. This initiative will provide access to quality animal care and veterinary assistance to improve livestock health in Africa in countries like Ethiopia, Nigeria and Uganda. Funds will go directly to technical training and disease prevention as well as the development of animal infrastructure.
  4. World Vets International Aid for Animal
    This program brings universal veterinary care training to rural communities in Tanzania. World Vets deploys trained professionals to respond to the most critical needs of the agricultural industry throughout the country by providing locals with quality training and equipment. This program also donates $1 million a year to local veterinary assistance establishments to purchase medical supplies and prepare for emergency animal health needs.
  5. GALVmed distributes vaccines to millions of farmers throughout Africa
    This organization partners with the FAO, EU, World Organization for Animal Health and local governments to provide livestock vaccines and medicines that are easily accessible to the poorest and most isolated farmers in Africa. By developing sustainable agricultural practices to promote animal health, treatment for livestock diseases is better managed. Containing livestock diseases and eliminating malpractice in treatment will increase livestock production rate and improve livestock health in Africa.

Healthier Animals Can Reduce Poverty

Without the help of nonprofit and government programs, these initiatives to provide veterinary assistance to improve livestock health in Africa would have little to no success. Vet training gives local farmers the opportunity to utilize their own experience and technical training to give livestock the best care possible. Healthier animals mean more food, production revenue and booming agricultural industry for the entire continent, reducing the number of people living in poverty.

Becca Cetta
Photo: Creative Commons

How Farm Africa is Helping in the Fight Against Poverty
Farm Africa is a nonprofit organization that is reducing poverty in Eastern Africa by helping farmers “grow more, sell more, and sell for more”. The organization focuses on three aspects: agriculture, environment and business.


Agriculture in Eastern Africa accounts for 70 percent of the population’s income. Farm Africa is enabling farmers to maximize the use of their land by sharing its expertise in growing the most appropriate crops for the region in regards to climate and soil composition, as well as the most profitable crops. They also help to provide the necessary tools in order to achieve a successful harvest year after year.


In an interview with Aid For Africa, Bridget Carle, a graduate student working in South Africa, said, “Agricultural researchers have found that increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere can affect crop production…But now we are learning that higher levels of CO2 are likely to reduce levels of essential nutrients like zinc, iron and Vitamin A, as well as the protein content of crops.” Farm Africa is aware of the changing environment and uses its knowledge to encourage African farmers to use sustainable farming practices. The organization also helps farmers develop holistic approaches to their farming, taking special care to not overuse resources.

In Ethiopia, Farm Africa is currently working with citizens to employ sustainable practices to preserve their forests and increase their economy. One such example is teaching community members to produce honey, weave baskets and make bamboo furniture in order to generate income rather than chopping down trees so they can sell timber.


Forbes Africa wrote an article showing how investing in irrigation has seen positive outcomes for Ethiopia’s economy. This article includes a section about how Farm Africa, the Ethiopian Bureau of Agriculture and local extension officers have come together in a joint effort to “help women and young people adopt small-scale irrigation…[as]part of an initiative to increase their incomes and improve their nutrition.” This project came close to reaching 6,400 women and landless people.

There are three parts to Farm Africa’s approach to business; business development, finance and trade. The organization helps Africa’s rural entrepreneurs expand their businesses and give them the tools to be successful over the long term. Farm Africa encourages the growth of co-operatives so that farmers may sell their products in bulk.

Farm Africa has 170 employees across four countries in Eastern Africa: Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda. The organization works on the ground with farmers, helping them develop sustainable farming practices and yield higher quality crops year after year. They are teaching community members to be environmentally conscious as they give them different business tools to help them grow their businesses and thrive in larger markets. By focusing on agriculture, the environment and business, Farm Africa is helping to reduce poverty in Eastern Africa.

– CJ Sternfels
Photo: Flickr

Akinwumi Ayodeji AdesinaWhat do you get when you combine the President of the African Development Bank, the Minister of Agriculture of Nigeria and an active member of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa? In this case, they are all one person. Dr. Akinwumi Ayodeji Adesina was deservedly recently named the 2017 World Food Prize Laureate for his work in transforming African agriculture and solving Africa’s food issues.

Growing up in poverty himself, Adesina’s mission to improve farming in Africa has the potential to lift millions out of poverty. He studied Agriculture at the University of Ife in Nigeria, and eventually went on to earn his Masters and Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics at Purdue University in Indiana, U.S.A.

A firm believer in making a better world for the next generation of Africans through education, health and economics, Dr. Akinwumi Ayodeji Adesina has been a political pioneer for millions of farmers throughout Africa. He works on everything from financial assistance for farmers to access to agricultural technologies and investments in agriculture.

Dr. Adesina believes that fertilizer and hybrid seeds can be some of the greatest assets to African agriculture in the coming years. He had a leading role in organizing the African Fertilizer Summit, which “was one of the largest high-level meetings in history to focus on Africa’s food issues,” according to CNBC. The mission of the summit? “Combating poverty and food and nutrition insecurity in Africa, and to direct our attention to key decisions that can move us forward with a view to eradicating hunger by 2030.”

The summit established a forefront to the Green Revolution across Africa, which in turn gave birth to AGRA, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, established by Bill and Melinda Gates.

With his Electronic Wallet System technology (or E-Wallet), Adesina has been able to cut out corrupt distributers, giving farmers access to seeds and fertilizer directly from the source. This mobile phone-based technology improved the lives of 14.5 million farmers and their families in its first four years.

Dr. Akinwumi Ayodeji also co-founded the African Leaders for Nutrition Panel with John Kufuor (former President of Ghana) with a goal to end malnutrition and stunting.

In 2011, he helped orchestrate the largest bank negotiation to aid farmers and agribusiness ever attempted in Africa, convincing the Central Bank of Nigeria to use $350 million in creating a facility that would pull $3.5 billion from commercial banks into agriculture.

At the 50th anniversary celebration of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in July of this year, Adesina announced that the African Development Bank (of which he is president) would be investing $24 billion in agriculture in Africa over the next 10 years. Adesina hopes that the two institutions can work together to transform African agriculture into being self-sustaining, with the potential to feed the entire continent within 10 years.

In a speech delivered last year at the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa, Dr. Adesina exposed the importance for improving agriculture in Africa and its effect on the world.

“Africa needs to invest more in science and technology to become more efficient and competitive in agriculture – and to diversify rapidly its economies. For Africa must fully unlock its immense agricultural potential. That potential is massive: Africa has 65 percent of all the arable land left in the world to feed 9 billion people by 2050. Africa cannot eat potential.”

These powerful words by such an influential man ring true, and hopefully more technological and scientific developments will come soon and impact Africa as positively as Dr. Akinwumi Ayodeji’s.

Katherine Gallagher

Uganda-Kenya Grain PartnershipA recent trading partnership between Uganda and Kenya is expected to bring prosperity and better trade relations for both countries. The two countries partnered up to balance out the surplus of grain produced in Uganda with the growing demand coming from Kenya.

Below are three things you should know about the Uganda-Kenya grain partnership and its potential to foster renewed development and growth in the region.

1. Global efforts make the partnership possible.

The FoodTrade project was able to establish the Uganda-Kenya grain partnership through a $3 million grant from the U.K.’s Department for International Development.

The partnership links farmers in Uganda to buyers in Kenya through a secure trading channel. This will allow for more effective, efficient trading of popular grains including green grams and soy beans.

Farm Africa, the lead agency for the FoodTrade project, assists smallholder farmers produce crops efficiently and trade them more effectively. This will boost their incomes and provide locals across the continent with the tools needed to feed themselves.

2. The partnership will positively impact many living in Uganda and Kenya.

Uganda, home to 35 million people, is among the fastest growing populations in the world. 80 percent of Ugandans are employed in the agriculture sector. Agriculture makes up 23 percent of the country’s GDP.

With such a large portion of the country’s working population gaining its livelihood from farming, an avenue to efficiently trade the goods produced means Uganda’s citizens can earn a profit, thereby boosting their income.

On the other side of the coin, Kenya has experienced extreme drought in recent years that has significantly reduced its grain production. The country also struggles with a lack of arable land to produce enough crops to meet the country’s growing demand.

The World Bank’s data shows that 34 percent of Uganda’s land is usable for farming whereas only 10 percent of Kenya’s land is healthy enough to produce crops. The Uganda-Kenya grain partnership will help bridge the gap between Kenya’s demand for grain and Uganda’s supply.

3. Smallholder farmers become the focus.

The partnership allows smallholder farmers to be linked to high paying buyers in Kenya. This agreement establishes a well-functioning regional market, which allows farmers to earn more money for their products than they would on their own.

The Uganda-Kenya grain partnership will also help to cut down on post-harvest losses by establishing a clean, reliable storage system.

This means that less food will go to waste and farmers will suffer fewer losses that cut into their income. More than 70,000 smallholder farmers are expected to benefit from the partnership.

The Uganda-Kenya grain partnership opens the door for thousands to better their lives by bridging the gap between Uganda’s supply of grain and Kenya’s growing demand for agricultural goods.

Hopes are high that this new avenue for trading will establish a strong economic relationship between Uganda and Kenya, which will allow both countries to prosper and take steps towards furthering developed.

Sara Christensen

Photo: Pixabay