Updated: Apr 3, 2020
Today, we live in the Technological Age, with virtually every aspect of modern society being affected by it. While debates ravage on about the effects of technology on general society and communication, it cannot be denied that technological advancements have greatly supported the strengthening of various work sectors. Nearly every sector is embracing the innovative ways of technology in order to bolster productivity. Technological advancements can greatly help aid the success of sectors, such as agriculture. The influence of monitoring apps and drones have made it so that farmers can keep a closer eye on their crops, whilst also effectively managing their time. This is especially important in a continent such as ours, which heavily relies on agriculture as a form of sustainability and economic growth. Africa has become a pioneer in agricultural technology. In addition to providing a new skill to many in the Agricultural sector, this technology also helps increase agricultural output and productivity.
Listed below are just a few examples of technologies changing the Agricultural sector in Africa:
In Nairobi, Kenya, an IBM project works with sensors that are able to monitor soil, collecting data and analyzing it after sending it to IBM’s cloud-based data centre. Furthermore, the farms are fitted with water tank sensors that monitor the soil, watering when necessary and thus ensuring a healthy, high yield and strong crop. This thus saves on time and farming costs.
Drones are for more than just beautiful aerial shots. South African farmers have begun using this technology to monitor their farms, assess their vegetation health, monitor their livestock, and assess stressed zones. As a result, their agricultural output and methods are boosted, saving on costs.
Mobile apps are greatly supporting rural farmers by providing necessary information on how to run a successful farm. These apps provide educational content that workers might not have been able to access otherwise, such as disease control, tracking the weather, pricing trends, and feeding practices. An app called MbeguChoice provides farmers with access to drought-resistant seeds.
Fintech company, FarmDrive, has created a mobile app to benefit the agricultural entrepreneur. The app collects data and provides a user with smallholder information such as an alternative risk assessment, credit worthiness and also helps to facilitate loans. As such, the smallholder farmer and entrepreneur is provided more opportunities for growth and productivity.
Along with the rise in mobile technology, comes the ease in communication. Farmers and buyers are able to facilitate communication easier and faster through calls, texts, and emails.
Farming insurance companies have taken advantage of the Internet of Things in order to deliver better services. Using historic satellite data, micro-agricultural insurance schemes in Mali and Uganda can predict a future yield and even provides compensation if that predicted yield is not met.
The World Bank offers the Agritech startup challenge in Kenya, using technology to connect promising startups and innovators with leading agribusiness corporates.
Agricultural transformation has been earmarked as an important step in ensuring African sustainability and economic growth. Almost three-quarters of the African workforce is involved in agriculture. Digital transformation is thus intrinsic to advancement. Many argue that it is the new frontier, and this can be seen in the various investments into the sector. For example, the 2014 Malabo Agenda, signed by various African heads of state, promises to open up the continents' agricultural potential. There has also been a $280 million PIATA partnership to promote agricultural transformation in Africa. The Liberian government is investing in their agripreneurs, offering entrepreneurial training to help support learning initiative and business know-how. In Kenya, who has been named the leading African country in enabling agribusiness, their agricultural sector has largely been influenced by their use of the technological advances exposed to them.
Of course, as with anything, there are drawbacks. Unfortunately, access to technology is still not widespread in Africa. Considering that many throughout the continent still live below the poverty belt, basic access to these educational technologies is limited. As a result, many who truly need it might miss out on these opportunities because of their lack of access. Thus, despite these advancements, Africa still has a long way to go in ensuring accessibility and upward mobility for all.
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