By Omolola Pedro
As the clamour for improved agricultural productivity increases, farmers have been implored to take measures, by using technology to boost production. According to the 2022 report of the World Economic Forum, increasing the digitalisation of agriculture improves the overall efficiency of the entire agricultural food system. Findings by analysts have shown that by 2025, half of Africa’s population will have access to Internet services, with about 350 million smartphones in circulation, in the continent.
Additionally, their estimation shows that Internet technology was capable of increasing Africa’s annual agricultural productivity by $3 billion per year. Throughout the continent, steps are being taken to improve agricultural practices and to make farming business, less labour intensive. In a bid to improve smart agricultural practices, farmers, non-governmental organisations and other relevant stakeholders have built mobile and digital applications that possess the ability to ease farmers stress, and improve production rate. Let’s take a look at some of these mobile applications:
This app allows farmers to explore the latest trends in agriculture; informs them about methodologies involved in selecting and understanding of soil health and specific crops based on the environmental parameters; provides comprehensive information on crop protection; and advises on managing plants against diseases, weeds and other pests. Besides sharing the up-to-date scientific information related to agriculture, the platform provides current market price for the crops, latest subsidies and other facilities sponsored by the government, and also recommendations, solutions and suggestions from agro-experts.
Geofarmer is an app that helps farmers share information, exchange experiences; positive or negative, in order to learn from one another. It is developed in a two-way data flows that supports co-innovation for agricultural projects. It also helps farmers and agricultural experts to track and monitor crop conditions.
This is a digital trading platform, which provides farmers with routes to fair market prices for their produce. TruTrade allows large buyers; wholesalers, but also processors and exporters, to place orders on the online platform for large quantities of specific crops, which would then be reviewed by a group of local traders affiliated to TruTrade. If a trader accepts a commission, he is responsible for procuring the commodity among its network of smallholder producers, and then sells it to the buyer. The trader earns a commission on the successful sale, which is actually based on the price that the farmers got for their crops, and not what was paid by the end buyer. This effectively shifts the traders’ mentality from a buy-low-sell-high approach to one that actually tries to deliver the best price for the smallholders they are sourcing their products from. Overall, the system is extremely transparent: farmers, for example, can use the online platform to monitor the evolution of the transaction, to see how much the end buyer paid, and how much the trader earned with his commission.
iCow made the 2011 Forbes list of top African mobile applications. It is a Short Messaging System (SMS) and voice-based mobile phone application for small-scale dairy farmers. It connects farmers to agricultural practices that they would on a normal day, not have access to. It provides access to knowledge, agricultural experts and solutions to agricultural problems. Forbes called it a “veterinary midwife” helping farmers track the various stages of their cows gestation, providing valuable tips on cow breeding, animal nutrition and milk production efficiency.
A mobile application platform with the capacity to connect grain farmers, wholesalers and retailers. The mobile-phone-based service links producers and traders across various geographic locations to have an effective communication about the grains they wish to buy or sell, at agreed prices. It also captures user feedback to rate the quality of services provided and products received. The app is available in multiple language options. According to the Lead Researcher of the KasuwaGo project, Dr. Michael Olabisi, “the aim of KasuwaGo is to bridge connection gaps in the informal sector using modern technology”. FarmingFarmersFarms, in an earlier report, had explained how the creation of digital and mobile applications can boost food production to avoid food scarcity.