Local solutions to local problems means taking agriculture digital in Africa and many parts of the developing world. The variety of innovative digital apps and solutions on display here addressing the needs of smallholders, farmers and the agricultural community is impressive.
Take Farmline, a social enterprise leveraging technology and data to connect farmers to vital information, services and products to increase profits and productivity. The Ghanaian company uses its proprietary Mergdata platform to transform small-scale farmers into successful entrepreneurs, delivering important data such as weather alerts, good agricultural practices and nutrition tips, financial literacy and market prices to farmers using voice and SMS – along with products such as fertilizers and seeds, and financial services. Farmline also aggregates data on farmer profiles, maps and audits, offering a platform for agricultural metrics and best practices.
Or Brastorne Enterprises, focusing on developing ICT solutions relevant to the local environment in Africa, where there is often bandwidth limitation and data is expensive. mAgri is a USSD mobile application allowing farmers to market their products and services across the country, connecting to updates from the Ministry of Agriculture, merchants such as the Botswana Meat Commission, other farmers, buyers and sellers throughout Botswana and beyond. Adding the ability to request short term loans from financial institutions will lead to a comprehensive agro-digital ecosystem.
Also on show is Farmcrowdy, Nigeria’s first digital agriculture platform connecting small scale farmers across Nigeria with access to finance sourced from individuals and corporates, as well as expertise on sustainable, efficient farming practices. It allows investors to select the farms they would like to sponsor, providing a safe and convenient platform to engage with the agricultural value chain – and, of course, empowering rural farmers with the necessary resources to utilize untapped farmland, expand farming operations and produce more food to feed the growing population.
Using IoT and the big data it produces in the agricultural context is the basis of the Agricultural Information Management System developed by ezfarm from South Korea; and of WAZIUP, on show at the Smart ABC pavilion and deploying low-cost IoT technologies and open data platforms in rural and remote communications in Africa and beyond.