Millions of people rely on income and employment opportunities provided by agriculture in several African countries. Yet, smallholder farmers in the countryside confront a variety of obstacles, including a lack of access to urban markets, erratic weather, and antiquated farming practises. The lives of small-scale farmers in Africa’s rural areas have been revolutionised in recent years thanks to advances in agricultural technology, or Agtech. Technology developed specifically for the agricultural sector, or “agtech,” aims to boost output while decreasing costs and wastage.
Agtech is also revolutionising farming in rural Africa by enabling the use of mobile devices. Farmers in many regions of Africa are taking use of the widespread availability of mobile phones to have access to up-to-date information on weather patterns, market prices, and innovative farming practises. iCow, a mobile app that helps farmers with things like animal husbandry and crop management, has exploded in popularity across Kenya, Tanzania, and other parts of Africa.
Quality agriculture inputs like seeds and fertilisers are also being enhanced by agtech. Syngenta, a global agribusiness, is at the forefront of this movement by creating a suite of high-yield seeds and crop protection products tailored to the needs of smallholder farmers in Africa. These items have been proved to raise yields and improve farmers’ incomes despite the challenging growing conditions prevalent across much of Africa.
Access to untapped markets
Agtech is facilitating farmers’ access to untapped markets, in addition to increasing their production on the farm. Web marketplaces like Farmcrowdy, which link rural producers with city consumers, are gaining popularity across the continent of Africa. Farmers can increase their earnings by skipping the intermediaries and selling straight to customers through these channels. Farmers reap benefits from this, while customers get easier access to fresh, locally sourced produce.
When it comes to solving the problem of hunger in Africa, agtech is also making significant contributions. The United Nations estimates that more than 820 million people throughout the world face hunger on a regular basis; many of these people live in Africa, which is home to some of the world’s poorest nations. Hydroponics, an agtech solution that allows farmers to grow crops without soil, is one way that this problem is being tackled. This is especially helpful in places where soil quality is poor or where land is few. Hydroponic farming is especially useful in cities, where space is limited and food has to be transported long distances.
But, there are still obstacles to be addressed before Agtech can truly revolutionise farming in Africa. The high price of many Agtech solutions is a major obstacle, especially for smallholder farmers who may not have the financial means to invest in such solutions. Governments and non-profits are striving to address this problem by providing subsidies and other forms of financial support to farmers so that they can use these technology.
Teaching farmers how to make the most of Agtech tools
Many small-scale farmers face difficulties due to a general lack of technical knowledge. To combat this, groups like the African Agricultural Technology Foundation are teaching farmers how to make the most of Agtech tools. This includes instruction in the use of mobile apps, the analysis of data from precision agriculture equipment, and the use of hydroponic farming practises.
While these obstacles must be overcome, Agtech in Africa has a promising future. Millions of small-scale farmers across Africa stand to benefit greatly from Agtech due to its potential to boost output, enhance efficiency, and cut down on waste.