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Crowdfunding links investors with farmers and provides alternative financing to producers

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Crowdfunding, a new agricultural investment model driven by young entrepreneurs

Faced with the lack of available finance for agricultural businesses from traditional banks, innovative entrepreneurs are turning to digital technology to access investment from the general public. Crowdfunding platforms have many advantages, but also entail some risks if there is to be trouble-free development of this alternative source of finance.

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Gender and digitalisation – supporting women in agribusiness

Information and communication technologies (ICTs) can be powerful tools to overcome limited access to information, boosting productivity and facilitating outsourcing, resource sharing and networking. But gender disparities in the use of ICTs across value chain prevent many women from achieving their full potential in the agriculture sector.

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Agri-wallet, a wallet for smallholder farmers

Access to finance is a serious challenge for smallholder farmers worldwide, and the majority of them are still underfinanced. When loans are provided, farmers may often pass these loans on to other people in need of cash. This, as well as the absence of a credit score or collateral (like title deeds), create uncertainty and risk for financial institutions and increases the difficulty for farmers to obtain such loans or other forms of finance.

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Adopting climate-smart agricultural innovations in Southern Africa: Knowledge alone is not enough

Some say that knowledge is power. In the knowledge age, information and ideas are touted as raw materials that are as important as other tangible resources such as land, labour and money. In the agriculture sector, this is also true, with information playing key roles in farmer adaptation and resilience building. But recent experiences from a field project to upscale climate-smart agriculture (CSA) in Southern Africa show that by itself, knowledge of proven climate smart agricultural innovation is not enough to ensure farmer uptake.

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Using fintech to drive financial inclusion for rural women

Despite women’s role as key players in agriculture and the rural economy of developing countries, a great many barriers prevent them from making a more substantial contribution. Compared with men, women have less access to productive resources, such as affordable finance. In Uganda, an alternative financial service is helping women to save, borrow, increase productivity and strengthen their roles across the agricultural value chain.

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Drones could become one of the main drivers of agricultural growth in Senegal

Malick Diagne is the head of GeoRisk Afric, a company founded in March 2016. He attended training sessions on drone usage for precision agriculture organised by CTA and the French company, Parrot, as part of the “Eyes in the Sky” project. In this blog, using his 12 years’ experience in environmental and natural resource management, the Senegalese head of the company explains the fascinating and critical innovation opportunities that drones provide for the gathering of geospatial data.

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Drones: supporting precision agriculture in Africa

The Cameroonian company Agribizz, a member of the UAV4Ag community, was selected to represent Cameroon in the project ‘Transforming Africa’s Agriculture: Eyes in the Sky, Smart Techs on the Ground’ commonly called ‘Eyes in the Sky’. Its Chief Executive Officer, Jasmin Choake, shares what the team learned from participating, as well as his opinion on the role that drones will play in the transformation of African agriculture.

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Using drones to boost agriculture in Burkina Faso

The ambitious objective of the “Eyes in the Sky, Smart Techs on the Ground” project, initiated by the Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), is to transform agriculture in African countries through the promotion of drone usage. I took part in the project as Director General of Cargitech Sarl, alongside several other African entrepreneurs.

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Climate-smart agriculture - Producing more with less

In order to feed a rapidly growing population, global food production will need to increase by at least 60% by 2050. Undermining efforts to achieve that goal are shifting weather patterns, including rising temperatures, unpredictable precipitation, more severe and frequent extreme weather events and the loss of ecosystem services and biodiversity. To what extent can climate-smart agriculture offset these negative effects on prospects for food security?

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A passion for storytelling about youth in African agribusiness

In 2016, Inoussa Maïga and I founded Agribusiness TV, the first web TV to target African youth engaged in agricultural entrepreneurship. Our objective was to make agriculture more attractive to young people by showcasing stories about people who have successfully launched agribusiness start-ups. Today, with more than 100 videos from 12 African countries, Agribusiness TV has carved a reputation as a channel that highlights youth success stories in agriculture. How did we do it? Let’s take a look behind the scenes.

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Making climate-smart agriculture work for women farmers and entrepreneurs

Agricultural production will need to increase by at least 50% over the next 30 years to meet the needs of rising populations and changing dietary preferences. This increase is caused by population growth, rising incomes and urbanisation. The latter two factors will lead to greater demand for protein rich foods, fruits and vegetables. This is already an enormous challenge, but is further complicated by anticipated climatic uncertainties, as farmers face increasing risks of drought, flood, and other stresses.

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myAnga app, a game changer for pastoralist climate resilience

The extreme weather events that result from climate change can be devastating and often exacerbate the already severe climate in arid and semi-arid parts of the world. Climate change is stretching the livelihoods of households in such areas to the limit, particularly those who wholly depend on livestock and livestock products.

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Accelerating youth agri-incubators in Africa - Lessons from Nigeria

Since business incubation/acceleration initiatives, especially in agriculture, are new to Africa, the adoption and the consistent recording and analysis of their impact is still work in progress. Prompted by youth employment or under-unemployment, incubator/accelerators chiefly support youth entrepreneurship development - from the ideation/innovation phase to assisting more seasoned enterprises seeking support for faster expansion.

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Building the next generation of farmers in Africa

By helping to integrate farmers into markets, and providing exposure to more information and emerging innovations, farmers’ organisations (FOs) can contribute to boosting employment and incomes across the food value chain, as well as fostering more inclusive growth.

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Fairfood hits the ground running with blockchain

Consisting of a small group of ambitious young people, Fairfood in the Netherlands aims to contribute to the achievement of six of the 17 sustainable development goals. Lonneke Craemers, head of business development and project management at Fairfood, explains how blockchain technology is helping them to achieve these aims.

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Farmer organisations promote youth entrepreneurship – Lessons from Zimbabwe

Farmer organisations have a key role to play in encouraging youth to stay in the agricultural sector, and pursue agro-based livelihoods. Crucially, they have strong potential in helping young people to become thriving agripreneurs, through the provision of training and opportunities to develop their skills, as well as by linking youth to key players in the agricultural value chain.

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Peer-to-peer insights from young ACP agripreneurs

In most developing countries, agriculture is the leading employer in rural areas. However, many young people regard the sector as the domain of the older generation, and shun it as a result, often migrating to urban areas in search of greener pastures. Here, two cases from Nigeria and Jamaica showcase the successful experiences of young agripreneurs who have launched start-ups, instead of moving away. Their stories may serve as inspiration for other youths contemplating a future in agriculture.

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Mentoring - a helping hand for young agripreneurs

So you have what you are convinced is a winning idea for an agribusiness. What happens next? Obtaining advice and guidance from someone who has trodden the same path may pay dividends, especially for young entrepreneurs with little business acumen.

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Land LayBy: Using blockchain to improve landownership

Since 2014, a pioneering organisation called Land LayBy has been developing land acquisition solutions. After a successful pilot scheme in Kenya, Land LayBy has scaled up their services to Australia, Ghana, London and New York. We spoke with Raymond Kaniu, chief strategist at Land LayBy and main author of their white paper. He explains Land LayBy’s journey and their experiences of working with blockchain technology.

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Cascaded mentoring for successful youth agripreneurship in Africa

Guidance from business professionals or peers can provide valuable support for young entrepreneurs just starting out. Here, Blessing Mene from Nigeria, and Hermann Tossou from Benin, both 29, describe how they have benefited from mentoring – and how each has gone on to offer mentorship to other young people wanting to launch an agribusiness.

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Invaluable knowledge acquired at CTA: My traineeship experience

Many institutions engaged in the agricultural and rural development sector across the globe invest in initiatives centred on youth and entrepreneurship. Few sponsor, support and train youth within their working environment, and foster the practical skills to help serve other organisations intervening within the agricultural development sector. For more than 10 years, CTA has specialised in incubating young professionals, scaling up their capacities and releasing valuable professionals with applicable abilities in the agricultural industry.

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The building blocks for better value chains

The UN reports that around 50% of crop value vanishes between harvesting and the point of sale. AgUnity – an Australian agri-tech start-up established in 2016 – aims to address this issue in Kenya, Papua New Guinea and Ethiopia with the help of blockchain technology.

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Pathways to scale finance for digitalisation on the path to agricultural transformation

Digitalisation of the financial sector, or fintech, has greatly advanced with payment solutions such as mobile money, which contribute to increased levels of financial inclusion. Despite these, agribusiness still needs to invest in digitalisation to increase productivity and value addition, storage and marketing of agricultural produce so they benefit smallholder farmers and pastoralists.

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Digital banking services for rural farmers – scaling up and scaling out

Launched in 2014 and winner of the first CTA Agrihack Championship, Ugandan start-up Ensibuuko is helping savings and loans cooperatives to become efficient and bankable by digitising how they manage customer data and transactions, and piloting their shift to a cashless and paperless system. Well on its way to scaling up the business within Uganda, the digital company is now looking further afield to extend its reach beyond national borders.

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Closing the gender gap in agriculture – and moving beyond the jargon

Gender balance, gender mainstreaming, gender bias – the issue of women is increasingly talked about in agricultural development circles, but what does it really mean – and more importantly, what is the impact? A workshop organised by CTA this week seeks to cut through the jargon, to reveal successful models for making next generation ACP agriculture work for women.

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Youth – the springboard for digital agribusiness in ACP countries

With youth accounting for an ever increasing share of Africa’s population, unmanned aerial system (UAS) technology offers scope for developing precision agriculture, while engaging young people in the critical challenge of producing more food. Rose Funja and Ingabire Muziga Mamy – who each run a drone company in East Africa – explain the potential of this technology for agriculture, and the support needed if youth are to become involved.

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Aggregating indigenous and scientific knowledge for better climate adaptation

Climate change poses a major threat to the food security of rural populations in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), where the environment is already severe. The vulnerability of rural communities in the region is particularly acute due to their dependence on rain-fed agriculture and natural resources. To improve the adaptive capacity of farmers in SSA and help protect their livelihoods, it is essential that all of the climate information available is harnessed to help anticipate and respond to climate risks, such as drought or flooding.

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Sustaining and scaling an online agricultural commodity marketing platform in East Africa

As Regional Manager for Structured Trading Systems at the Eastern Africa Grain Council, Samwel Rutto’s work entails promoting structured markets to facilitate trade and eliminating inefficiencies in the grain industry. Here he explains how his experience in the design and operation of an electronic grain trading system has taught him some of the pitfalls to avoid when trying to scale up digital marketing platforms for agribusiness.

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Six business model recommendations for ACP digital agribusiness entrepreneurs

More and more entrepreneurs in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries are seeking to exploit wider access to digital technologies to offer ICT-based solutions. However, turning promising ideas into profitable businesses that break even is a struggle. A key challenge is to grow revenues and keep customers, turning sales into repeat purchases. Moving into profitability is a major hurdle for young entrepreneurs who lack business management acumen and knowledge of the agriculture sector, and have few business assets to fall back on.

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Mobilising funds and political will to prompt climate action

Agriculture is central to any debate on climate change given the enormous responsibility placed on the sector to produce 60% more food by 2050, despite changing climatic uncertainties. Yields worldwide, for example, are expected to decrease by more than 10% due to climate change – with Africa and South Asia most negatively impacted – while the world’s population continues to grow.

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ZFU-Econet Wireless bilateral partnership in Zimbabwe

Southern Africa is particularly vulnerable to climate change because smallholder subsistence farmers rely almost entirely on rainfed farming. Weather patterns such as drought, floods and erratic rainfall therefore have a significant impact on the food security and incomes of a largely poor population with little capacity to adapt.

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Multilateral partnerships for climate-smart cereal solutions in Zambia

A multilateral partnership in Zambia has profiled and digitally registered 35,000 farmers for ICT-enabled extension and advisory services, including a system which sends agronomic information and weather updates to their mobile phones. Mrs. Mweene, a farmer from Kapiri Mposhi District in Zambia, explains that “the messages remind farmers how to spray their animals, how to manage the fields and how to store harvested grains.”

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Youth entrepreneurship for next generation agriculture

The figures speak volumes – the world’s farmers are getting older, but the global population is getting younger. Nowhere is this truer than in Africa, where the average age of a farmer is now over 60. Worldwide, the number of people aged 15 to 24 is expected to increase to 1.3 billion by 2050 (UN DESA, 2011), most of whom will be born in developing countries in Africa and Asia, where more than half the population still live in rural areas.

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Building capacity in open data for agriculture and nutrition

The rapidly increasing availability of scientific, social and market data has huge potential to improve the agriculture sector and address food security and nutrition challenges. But to achieve this potential we need to ensure that this data can be accessed shared and used by those who are in a position to realise its benefits.

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Harnessing the benefits of data and farmer’s data right to advance agriculture

Digital farming holds enormous potential for agricultural development, and giving farmers the tools to boost productivity and profitability. Although the benefits of digitalisation are numerous, farmers feel they are not the ones benefiting from the value of data collected on their farms. Ensuring that farmers understand their rights to data, and have access to relevant data, is essential to harnessing the benefits for better farm decision management.

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Study shows major gaps in ACP drones legislation

A new study by CTA, Drone governance: study of policies, laws and regulations governing the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in ACP countries, shows major gaps in legislation governing the use of drones in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries.

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