Food systems in AfricaIn sub-Saharan Africa, most employment is in the food sector, with 60 percent being farmers. Food sector jobs are projected to be even more prevalent in Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. However, the agricultural yield is low, and Africa’s staple crop is in a decline. Maize production will reduce 40 percent by 2050, and the population is expected to double to 2.5 billion. Digital technology can influence agriculture and help strengthen food systems in Africa.

Hello Tractor

Hello Tractor is a digital tractor sharing solution that has created a platform for smallholder farmers to afford agricultural technology. For every 100,000 square kilometers worldwide, there are 200 tractors available. There are only 13 tractors per 100,000 square kilometers in Africa. Hello Tractor has successfully reached five markets in Africa and influenced 75 percent of private commercial tractor profit in Nigeria.

Hello Tractor offers sub-Saharan African farmers more than just a tractor. The ag-tech solution includes a monitoring device installed in each machine that collects important data. Collected data is transmitted to a Hello Tractor Cloud and makes its way to the manufacturing industry. This shared information helps manufacturers to design personalized equipment for their select clientele.

Digital Green

Digital technology is also improving the documentation, which is good for African food systems. The World Bank has partnered with Digital Green to improve agricultural practices through the exchange of information. Researchers are educating farmers in Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi and Niger and sharing knowledge through video content. The material highlights post-harvest and nutrition-related improvements.

Before implementing technological transformations, Digital Green assesses currently active systems in communities. Poor and struggling communities are persistent in their efforts to beat poverty. Companies like Digital Green facilitate this advancement and mobilizes farmers through video production training. This is a self-sustaining opportunity for developing communities. Feedback from local farmers makes the process more effective, but limited access to the internet and electricity calls for offline screening in addition to online sharing. Digital Greens is working with Connection Online Connection Offline to make that happen.

Connection Online Connection Offline

Connection Online Connection Offline (CoCo) is a data collection system that does not require software installation and is compatible with any device. CoCo’s database includes an analytics dashboard with instant statistics about operations, targets and metrics. This is how video programs are monitored and evaluated to improve food systems in Africa.

Another social platform within the agriculture community is 2KUZE. This Mastercard subsidiary connects farmers to buyers and agents in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania via mobile commerce. Direct buyer access is advantageous for smallholder farmers seeking a larger percentage of the wholesale value of their goods. Moreover, mobile transactions save farmers valuable time that would be spent traveling hours to distant markets. The platform especially appeals to female farmers who may find themselves held back by family obligations.

Digital technology allows farmers better access to resources of higher capital. The exchange of data in farming communities can facilitate the restoration of agricultural production in Africa. E-commerce platforms enhance market price transparency and give farmers leverage to compete against larger producers, thus reducing poverty by improving food systems in Africa.

Crystal Tabares
Photo: Flickr