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.
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