Digital Solutions Could Be Key To End Hunger In Africa: Report

jyoti
By jyoti July 9, 2019 14:11

Strategic use of Digital Solutions can be a game-changer in accelerating sustainable agricultural transformation in Africa as well as ending hunger in the continent, according to a new report.

  • Under the Malabo Declaration on Africa’s agricultural transformation and food security, 47 countries of the African Union had committed to developing food-secure and hunger-free nations by 2025. However, only 20 are on track to meet their commitments.
  • Besides, the continent’s progress towards the United Nations-mandated Sustainable Development Goals to achieve zero hunger, food, and nutrition security and sustainable agriculture is also very poor, according to the 2019 Africa SDG Index, released early this month.

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  • Over the last 10 years, there has been significant growth in digitalization for agriculture (D4Ag), according to the report by the Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Cooperation (CTA).
  • As of February 2019, there were 390 distinct, active D4Ag solutions across the continent covering: 
    • advisory services, 
    • market linkages, 
    • financial access, 
    • supply chain management, and 
    • macro agricultural intelligence.
  • At least 33 million smallholder farmers have registered for these solutions. The sector has been growing at about 44 percent per annum over the last three years in terms of the number of farmers reached (ie, registered for solutions), the report showed.
  • However, in Africa, progress towards D4Ag has been somewhat slow to serve small farm holders who produce 80 percent of Africa’s agricultural output. Only 15-30 percent of the registered farmers use the solutions.
    • The continent also lacks targeted investments to develop D4Ag tools ie, machine learning, big data analytics, Internet of Things, states the report.
    • Even though a handful of players are leading the way, the report finds a positive impact of D4Ag on the agricultural yield and income metrics.  It has found the yield to improve in the range of 50–300 percent and income in the range of 20–100 percent.

Significance of D4Ag for Africa

  • Digital Solutions can help in making agriculture more climate-resilient and are able to eliminate hunger in the African countries.
    • Technologies can help stimulate innovation for sustainable agri-food systems and produce better and safer food while preserving natural resources and biodiversity
  • D4Ag will also open up hundreds of thousands of jobs in agricultural technology. It is also expected to help increase the share of smallholders in tight value chains and the quality of smallholder jobs.  

Way Ahead

  • Given that Africa is set to achieve near-universal phone access in the coming years, current growth trends suggest that 100 million smallholder farmers could be registered for D4Ag services within three years and as many as 200 million smallholders will sign on by 2030, the report said.
  • With this, the focus needs to be on encouraging and building capacities of the farmers in using these technologies, the report said.

Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Cooperation (CTA)

  • CTA is a joint international institution of the African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) Group of States and European Union (EU). 
  • It is at the forefront of the fight against poverty and for sustainable food security in the region.

Digitalization for agriculture (D4Ag)

  1. D4Ag is the use of digital technologies, innovations, and data to transform business models and practices across the agricultural value chain. 
  2. It includes solutions like agronomic advice and information delivered via short message services (SMS) and interactive voice response (IVR) to smartphone applications that link farmers to multimedia advisory content, farm inputs, and buyers.

These Digital solutions offer farmers access to tailored information and insights that help them optimize their production, gain access to appropriate products and services, and explore new linkages with markets.

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jyoti
By jyoti July 9, 2019 14:11