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Digitalisation

Increasing profitability and productivity for smallholder farmers through digitalisation and innovative business practices

In September 2019, in Brussels, CTA held an experience capitalisation workshop, highlighting four key areas of impact: advocacy, value chain, digitalisation and capitalisation.

© CTA

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Over the last 20 years, ICT Update has followed and reported on the rapidly changing landscape in ICTs for agriculture and digitalisation of the sector. The definition of digitalisation for agriculture, according to "The Digitalisation of African Agriculture Report, 2018-2019", “is the use of digital technologies, innovations, and data to transform business models and practices across the agriculture value chain, including production, postharvest handling, market access, finance and supply chain management".

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CTA’s Data4Ag project has introduced digital solutions in Africa to assist farmers’ organisations in registering their members to offer targeted agricultural services. Whilst impacts from the field have been impressive, questions have been raised around the collection and use of farmer data, and the need for policy development.

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Binkabi is a platform for the issuing, trading and financing of commodities on the blockchain. CEO and founder, Quan Le, spoke with us to explain the ins and outs of the application and provide some advice for others interested in taking up blockchain technology.

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Technological innovations and advances in digital farming continue to evolve at a rapid pace, increasing efficiencies in farming operations globally. However, the adoption of these new technologies by small-scale farmers is still low due to poor data infrastructure and a lack of business partnerships, limiting farmer organisations from capitalising on market opportunities.

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The case of MUIIS project is an epitome of digitalisation for agriculture in which access to digital solutions by smallholder farmers and other value chain actors has led to more efficient operations within the agricultural innovation system, resulting in equal access to finance by women, men, young and old; increased resilience; improved production and income.

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Founded in 2015, BenBen is a Ghanaian-based land tenure and property tech start-up. BenBen leverages distributed ledger technology (DLT) in building digital platforms for securing land-based assets and financial transactions in African land markets. BenBen’s vision is to build the digital infrastructure to enable African economies to fully unlock the socio-economic potential of their land and create ethical land markets.

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Since 2016, CTA has been working with farmer organisations in Burkina Faso, Fiji, Kenya, Lesotho, Samoa, Swaziland, Trinidad, and Tobago and Uganda, to implement their Data for Agriculture (Data4Ag) project. The aim of the project is to investigate how the collection and effective management of farmer data can be used by farmer organisations to improve the livelihoods of their members.

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With decision EX.CL/Dec. 986-1007 (XXXII), the African Union (AU) has established one of the most important incentives for its member states – to use drones to boost Africa’s development and accelerate transformation on the continent. Indeed, drones have been used to solve many development problems in the fields of agriculture, health, infrastructure monitoring, surveying and soil mapping, among others, and have the potential to find further application.

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Data-driven services have the potential to effectively propel agricultural innovations and contribute to the sustainability of food systems. But despite a continuous increase of initiatives facilitating common data exchange in agriculture, a lack of legal and policy frameworks continues to hamper ownership, control and access of data.

Agricultural transformation is a priority in the policy agenda of African governments in their quest to meet the challenges of food and nutrition insecurity, climate change, youth unemployment and overall economic growth. With the right policies, innovation and investment, the continent’s agriculture could be transformed into a powerhouse not only to feed a growing population but to create decent employment for millions of young people.