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Digital technologies, a game-changer for Africa's agricultural sector

Tuesday, 27 April 2021 21:09
Digital technologies, a game-changer for Africa's agricultural sector

(Ecofin Agency) - The African Development Bank, together with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) carried out a Digital Agricultural Profile in three African countries: Ivory Coast, Rwanda, and South Africa.

Results from these countries pointed out important promising technologies that will solve the challenges faced by the agricultural sector in Africa, with key areas in drones, satellites, geographic information systems, weather stations, and advanced analytics. 

“The future of agriculture is data-enabled. Conventional approaches to food production are no longer able to keep up with Africa’s fast-growing food systems demands and the impact of climate change on agriculture. Technological innovations and digitalization offer an opportunity to transform African agriculture to produce higher yields, increase value addition and ensure more nutritious foods on a wider scale,” said Dr. Martin Fregene, Director for Agriculture and Agro-industry at the African Development Bank.

Digital technologies are becoming key to the transformation of agriculture in Africa, as farmers are being provided with timely climate information, market prices, crop disease; and well-organized farm management, and new technologies are rapidly growing. This could be a good start to achieving regional food security, as well as poverty reduction and improved livelihoods.

However, the scale of resources needed for transformation is even more significant. For instance, the transformation of a selection of 18 value chains will cost approximately $315 to 400 billion over 2015 to 2025. This surpasses funds available from the public sector; private sector capital is therefore needed, and there are sufficient funds in African capital markets if they can be appropriately mobilized by the public sector, as outlined in the African Development Bank’s “Feed Africa.”

Besides looking at the public sector, the Agricultural Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM-C) initiative to be tabled during the UN Food Systems Summit in September 2021 aims to accelerate global agricultural innovation and the use of climate-smart technologies by smallholder farmers, through investments in the CGIAR system. 

Solange Che

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