The Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Cooperation (CTA) on Tuesday launched the Digitalisation of African Agriculture Report for 2018-2019 in Accra.
The report, which was authored by Mr. Michael Hailu, Director-CTA, and Mr. Michael Tsan of Dalberg, advocates the digital agricultural transformation that can feed Africa.
The report’s launch took place at the ongoing 2019 African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) in Accra.
Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, the Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, represented Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia at the report-launch.
Other dignitaries at the report-launch included Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, Minister of Food and Agriculture, and Agnes Matilda Kalibata, President of the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).
The event is being attended by 2,300 delegates from Africa and across the globe, and being hosted by the government of Ghana and Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) on the theme ‘Grow Digital: Leveraging Digital Transformation to Drive Sustainable Food Systems’.
The four-day AGRF forum (September 3-6) will evaluate how far the African Continent has progressed in the past decade with agriculture development; discuss policies and programmes that will help attract the needed investments; and strategise ways of leveraging on technology as a key driver for agricultural transformation.
Mr. Hailu said 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 can be transformed into a powerhouse – not only to feed a growing population, but also to create decent employment for millions of young people.”
On his part Mr. Tsan said the report’s ambition is to serve as a barometer for the current state of agriculture digitisation in Africa.
According to the report, agricultural transformation remains one of Africa’s most pressing priorities, but has been difficult to achieve.
It intimated that the statistics are well-known: Africa, especially sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), needs to double (and perhaps even triple) current levels of agricultural productivity to meet continental demand and stave-off food and nutrition insecurity.
It said the continent must achieve these targets while simultaneously adapting to climate change.
It noted that climate change is already impacting the agricultural sector, with increasing climate volatility and the destructive effects of droughts, floods, new pests and diseases.
“With so much at stake, it is no surprise that most African countries have prioritised agricultural transformation as a key pillar of their national strategies,” the report said.
“Yet, as the African Union’s 2018 biennial review of the Malabo Declaration shows, fewer than half of countries (20 out of 47) are currently on track to meet their commitments by 2025.”
It noted that it is against this backdrop that digitalisation for agriculture (D4Ag) could be a game changer in supporting and accelerating agricultural transformation across the continent. It indicated that the D4Ag addresses a wide scope of factors and conditions affecting farms, farmers and the agri-food sector as a whole.
It said the volume of data – and the supporting layer of new digital agricultural solutions – is growing exponentially at the same time as quality of that data is rapidly evolving.
The report said D4Ag has the potential to not only support agricultural transformation but to do so sustainably and inclusively.
It said an inclusive, digitally-enabled agricultural transformation could help achieve meaningful livelihood improvements for Africa’s 250 million smallholder farmers and pastoralists – adding that it could drive greater engagement in agriculture from women and young people and support employment opportunities along the agricultural value chain; and it could help build resilience to climate change.
It noted that, for the first time, it is possible to precisely capture data from individual farms and fields and combine them in macro-level data sets, and utilise those sets in increasingly cost-effective ways.