Eastern Africa

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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

Exploring the transformative power of drones in Rwanda

On a windy day high up in the hilly country in Rwanda’s Northern Province, Paul Tuyisingize observes the rapid flight of a drone above his wheat fields with an expression of wonder and delight. “I’m very happy with this project,” he says as the drone’s multi-spectral sensor gathers information about the condition of his crop. “I think it will help me to increase my yields.”

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Impact story

Farming by Phone to keep up with the Climate

A project known as MUIIS (Market-led, User-owned ICT4Ag-enabled Information Services), led by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), links farmers to satellite-based services that help them to increase crop yields. Tips and instructions sent to mobile devices get as specific as ‘spread fertilizer between 5 pm and 7 pm’ or ‘winds expected at 3 pm’. Something farmers say have increased crop yields and contributed to food security.

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Impact story

All Eyes on the Sky

Smallholders in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific are seeing their horizons broaden, as access to technology brings digital applications to agriculture. In Uganda, a project supported by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), has forged a partnership with Igara Tea Factory (IGTF) to transform cultivation through digital innovation.

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Blog articles

Kenyan youth groups selected for a new agribusiness development project

 Hermann Tossou
by Hermann Tossou

The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation’s (CTA) joint project with the USTADI Foundation – Youth Economic Empowerment through Agribusiness in Kenya (Vijabiz) – has selected 166 youth groups to receive capacity building and financial support. The membership of the selected youth groups total 2,373 young farmers, who will be the beneficiaries of the project being implemented in Kilifi and Nakuru counties in Kenya between 2018 and 2020.

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in Blog Blog

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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in Blog Blog

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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in Blog Blog

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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in Blog Blog

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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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

Non-tariff barriers are key to enabling trade

The Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) is widely seen as a potential stimulant for economic growth, industrialisation and sustainable development in Africa, despite some challenges which need to be addressed. Fears of significant tariff revenue losses and an uneven distribution of benefits are among the main obstacles to the continent's market integration.

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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

It’s not all about ‘high-tech’ solutions

If you were prepared to invest in a new smartphone, why would you buy a second-hand landline? Sounds an unlikely preference. But in another area of technology, it’s a regular reality. A farmer‘s single most important choice every season is what to plant. First, he or she has to decide on the crop itself – maize, for example, or potatoes, or vegetables. Then comes the seed.

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Background articles

Channeling Africa's water resources to build resilience

 Caspar Van Vark
by Caspar Van Vark

Relying solely on rain-fed agriculture limits farmers’ ability to improve yields and income. Irrigation can unlock their potential, but it requires a combination of technology, finance and support.

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in Spore Analysis

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

Climate resilience across the value chain

CSA is a now widely implemented approach to agriculture, which focuses on achieving three central goals: sustainably increasing productivity, adapting to adverse climate change, and mitigating the negative impacts of current agricultural practices on the environment.

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News articles

Harnessing the Power of Data

In sub-Saharan Africa, the yield gap – the difference between a crop’s potential and the real yield – is often high, with many farmers harvesting 25% of the amount of maize, millet or other staple crop they could be getting, using the right information, technologies and inputs. This helps to explain why only 20% of the food produced in many African countries is sold, as smallholder farmers need to keep the rest just to feed themselves. Hence low incomes and widespread rural poverty.

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in A year in review 2018 News

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

Insurance – saving lives and livelihoods

Erratic and unpredictable weather and changes in the climate threaten the livelihoods and survival of tens of millions of smallholder farmers in Africa. When crops fail, or livestock die of hunger, the repercussions can be devastating. To give just one example, severe drought in 2017 led to cattle herders in northern Kenya losing over 70% of their livestock. In Ethiopia, over 5 million people required emergency food aid and almost 2 million people were displaced from their homes.

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in A year in review 2018 News

Climate-proofing pastoralism in Eastern Africa

An increase in the frequency and severity of droughts, coupled with unpredictable weather patterns, is threatening the survival of some 20 million livestock keepers in Eastern Africa. Recent droughts have eroded pastoralists’ adaptive capacity to such an extent that almost every one results in a humanitarian crisis.

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in A year in review 2018 News

Smart solutions, targeted loans, higher yields

One of CTA’s most innovative digitalisation projects, the Market-Led User-Owned ICT4Ag-Enabled Information Service (MUIIS), made good progress in 2018, helping smallholder farmers in Uganda significantly improve their crop yields and profits. Launched in late 2015 with support from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, MUIIS set itself the goal of increasing the yields of 200,000 Ugandans farmers by at least 25% and their profits by 20%.

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Interviews

Creating shared values for companies, society and the environment

Richard McNally highlights the role to be played by private sector investment in the growth of climate-smart value chain

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in Spore Interview

Enhancing traceability for informal trade

As the executive director and CEO of the Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC), which brings together producers and processors, Gerald Makau Masila describes the barriers to formal trade for agricultural value chain actors. According to him, there is a need to invest in market infrastructure and to promote ICTs.

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in Spore Interview

Wine makes profits go bananas

A glut of bananas during peak season in southwest Uganda led to plummeting prices and massive wastage due to poor post-harvest management. Elizabeth Nsimadala, publicity secretary of both the Tigebwa Rural Producer Organisation and Nyabubare Area Cooperative Enterprise, explains how the two organisations developed an innovative solution to the problem. This enterprising agricultural cooperative has embarked on banana wine production, helping members to process, bottle and market surplus produce – with substantial benefits to farmers.

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Data Reports

Uganda: Lawyers go digital to reach women farmers

 Busani Bafana
by Busani Bafana

For less than €1, women farmers in Uganda are accessing legal advice via their mobile phones. The SMS service, driven by an all-female team under the leadership of Hellen Mukasa, helps women to realise and defend their rights, particularly in regards to land ownership.

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in Spore Field report

Revitalising seaweed farming in Zanzibar

The use of tubular nets in seaweed farming is enabling women farmers in Zanzibar to cultivate profitable varieties. Through training in seaweed processing, the farmers are also producing innovative products for the food and beauty industries.

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Scientific Articles

Digitalising East Africa’s border control

 Stephanie Lynch
by Stephanie Lynch

Cross-border trade in East Africa has never been more efficient with the introduction of centralised digital systems that can be accessed by authorities across the region, to monitor the journey of goods and ensure all the necessary documentation is available.

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in ICTUpdate Technical scientific article

Cryptocurrency: more education, less hype

John Weru is a Kenya-born writer, blogger and co-founder of PayHub East Africa. In a conversation with ICT Update, John talked about the rise of cryptocurrency, the potential of the blockchain to improve efficiency in the agricultural value chain in Africa, and the urgent need to educate people about the technology itself and the economy that it is creating.

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Events

Promoting inclusive, sustainable and responsible fisheries value chains in Seychelles and the Indian Ocean region

The fisheries sector in the Indian Ocean is a major contributor to food security and nutrition, employment and income generation. The artisanal fisheries sector, in particular, plays a key role in the supply of fresh fish for the regional domestic market and directly employs more than 130,000 people...

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...