Western Africa

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Articles

Impact Stories

Africa’s Eyes in the Sky

“Most of Africa missed out on the Green Revolution that transformed agriculture in South and East Asia, but we’re not going to miss the digital revolution,” says Dr Abdelaziz Lawani, Professor of Agribusiness at Eastern Kentucky University (EKU). Dr Lawani is also the founder of Global Partners, a Benin-based start-up which uses unmanned aerial vehicles – or drones – to provide a range of services to farmers and others.

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Impact story

Marthe Montcho: Blogging for social change

Marthe Montcho started her blog, L’Agriculture au féminin or Women in Farming, in October 2013. Despite initially knowing very little about blogging, she quickly became a success as the blog grew in popularity. Montcho’s desire to fill what she saw as an information gap and empower female farmers, particularly in her home country of Benin, led to her winning the Youth in Agriculture Blog Competition (YoBloCo), organised by CTA in 2014.

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Blog articles

Guarantee funds unlock finance for agri-entrepreneurship in West Africa

 Marnie Pannatier
by Marnie Pannatier

Timely completion of field preparation and grain harvesting is a major challenge for rice farmers across sub-Saharan Africa. A new business model led by young people is providing mechanised services to farmers for activities such as soil preparation and harvesting, helping them to intensify production and improve their income as a result.

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in Blog Blog

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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in Blog Blog

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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in Blog Blog

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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Opinion articles

Farmers must be involved in the solutions offered by data sharing

 Jamila Abass
by Jamila Abass

Many governments and donor agencies, as well as the private sector work to solve the myriad of challenges smallholder farmers in Africa face every day, including, but not limited to, access to markets and agronomic support. More progress could be made, however, if the farmers themselves were invited to play a role in tackling their own problems – and mobile technology could be a way to make this happen.

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in Spore Opinion article

How might the CFTA benefit West Africa?

Accounting for more than a third of Africa’s total population, West Africa is home to over 360 million people – 60% of whom are employed in the agricultural sector. The region has huge potential for both the intra-regional and global trade that are so crucial for economic growth and food security; yet intra-regional trade among West African countries lies well below that of other regions of the world, despite the presence of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS), which aims to promote trade between regions.

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in Spore Opinion article

Technology is key to strengthening plant health systems

An estimated 40% of crops grown annually are lost to pests. Due to increased trade, swift international travel, tourism and climate change, pests spread more rapidly. This results in damage that reduces productivity and income, whilst also causing adverse effects on biodiversity, increasing farmers’ reliance on pesticides and vulnerability to climate damage.

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in Spore Opinion article

Women entrepreneurs are key to Africa’s economic growth

Over the past 30 years, significant efforts have been made to compensate the gender gap on the African continent. Some initiatives have been successful, others less so. One initiative that has made progress is the promotion of women’s right to economic freedom, particularly in terms of advocacy and awareness raising.

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Background articles

A promising new continent-wide trade agreement for Africa

The new African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) is expected to be a game changer, boosting inter-African trade, spurring manufacturing, and creating economic opportunities. But for its benefits to be realised, the details need to be negotiated; and Africa's leaders need to commit to AfCFTA for the long haul.

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in Spore Analysis

Strategies for scaling agricultural innovations

Agricultural innovations must have a more substantial impact to meet the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 – which call for a concerted effort from the public and private sectors, as well as farmers and processors. To meet the SDGs, impacts at all levels of the agricultural value chain will need to be increased, with the involvement of all stakeholders in the sector.

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in Spore Analysis

Aligning Africa’s regulations with global markets

Poor food safety regulations hamper Africa’s ability to engage in international food markets. But harmonised regulations, tailored infrastructure and increased public and private sector investment have been identified as interventions that could bolster the continent’s food safety capacity, and ignite its food export market.

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News articles

Learning from Experience

Development projects frequently come to an end without those involved having time to analyse the lessons learned and ensure that their activities have a lasting impact. A three-year project managed by CTA and funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) was launched in 2016 to tackle this problem. The ‘Capitalising on Experiences for Greater Impact on Rural Development’ project helps individuals and organisations reflect on their activities, write about their experiences which can be applied to future initiatives.

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in A year in review 2018 News

Empowering Women in Agribusiness

Women play a vitally important role in a whole range of agricultural activities. According to the Pew Research Centre, women make up at least half the productive workforce in some African countries. In addition to their role as food producers, they are responsible for preparing food in the home and ensuring that their families have a nutritious diet. However, it tends to be men, rather than women, who undertake and mostly benefit from profitable activities along agricultural value chains.

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in A year in review 2018 News

Boosting Prices and Efficiency in the West African Grain Market

For the vast majority of people living in West Africa, cereals are an important part of their diet. They are also the staple crop for hundreds of thousands of small-scale farmers, and boosting productivity and sales could do much to improve regional food security and tackle hunger. However, a lack of reliable information about market conditions and profitability are hindering the efficient operation of cereal value chains.

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in A year in review 2018 News

Young women take the lead in Pitch AgriHack

Since the launch of CTA’s Pitch AgriHack Talent Initiative in 2013, over 1 million farmers and agricultural stakeholders have benefited from services provided by start-up companies involved in its annual competitions. Their ICT-based innovations have helped to raise more than €2 million from investors and development specialists.

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in A year in review 2018 News

Promoting Youth Employment in the Rice Value Chain

In many West African countries, the lack of employment opportunities in rural areas has led to an exodus of young people, both to major cities in the region and to Europe. This is a serious loss, as the young offer a potentially dynamic labour force at a time when the agricultural sector is desperately short of workers.

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Interviews

Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu: “Policymakers should see innovators as partners for progress”

 Alex Miller
by Alex Miller

Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu, founder and CEO of ColdHubs, which provides solar powered cold storage facilities to farmers in Nigeria, shares his thoughts on green energy innovations and their place in agricultural value chains.

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in Spore Interview

There is no blueprint for development

Program Leader for Agriculture and Food Security at the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Renaud De Plaen, describes some of the requisite factors to design scalable development interventions.

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Interview

Online platform improves the livelihood of small farmers in Ghana

Michael Ocansey, a computer science specialist, and Francis Obirikorang, a chemical engineer, developed the online platform, AgroCenta, won CTA’s 2017 Pitch AgriHack initiative, which gives youth entrepreneurs an opportunity to develop their business services and accelerate the adoption of their services. In an interview with CTA, Ocansey talks about AgroCenta – which links small-scale farmers and farmer organisations in Ghana with a big online market to improve the prices they receive for their commodities.

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Data Reports

Stimulating production through public-private partnerships

 Aaron Akinocho
by Aaron Akinocho

By creating stronger value chains around ‘champions’ in agribusiness, the incubator programme, 2SCALE, is helping small-scale farmers enter local and regional markets and enabling an increase in the scale of production.

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in Spore Field report

Supporting entrepreneurship in Africa

With a vision to economically empower Africa’s youth, the Tony Elumelu Enterprise Programme (TEEP) was set up in 2012. Beneficiaries are developing innovative agri-products and services and building more solid business structures with the knowledge acquired through the programme.

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in Spore Field report

Mechanisation: women at the controls

Some 60 km from Cotonou, the capital of Benin, a cooperative of female market gardeners has pooled the use of agricultural machinery, dramatically increasing their income. They process cassava with a grating machine acquired through an agricultural equipment cooperative and are considering buying new machinery to increase their production and enter new markets.

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Scientific Articles

Developing sustainable ICT driven solutions and agroecology

 Ezinne Merianchris Emeana
by Ezinne Merianchris Emeana

Ezinne Merianchris Emeana a researcher at Coventry University discussed how the SmartAgroecology app is promoting the sharing of agro-ecological knowledge and skills amongst women farmers and extension personnel in Nigeria in order to help them achieve sustainable production and livelihood.

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Events

Transforming Africa’s agriculture: Eyes in the sky, smart techs on the ground

Recognising the opportunities offered by the drone-based systems, in 2016 CTA partnered with leading private sector operators, and assisted African ICT start-ups in acquiring the capacity to deliver UAS services in the framework of this project known as 'Transforming Africa’s agriculture: Eyes in th...