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Digital Tech: The Future of Agriculture in Africa

By December 6, 2019 No Comments

With the digital revolution quickly transforming every major sector of the global economy, it is no surprise the magnitude of impact this revolution is having in the world of agriculture. Today, we see sophisticated technologies such as temperature and moisture sensors, robots, GPS technology, precision agriculture, amongst others being used to enhance the productivity and profitability of farmers across continents, as well as keep expensive assets, such as tractors, safe while they work on the field, usually very far away from their owner’s line of sight.

Hello Tractor's solution creates equitable access to tractor services for smallholder farmers, allowing them to be more productive on the farm, earn more and improve their livelihoods

With more and more agtech companies springing up across the world every so often, so much work is being put into ensuring that we are headed towards a secure food system even as our global population continues to skyrocket. Companies such as Zenvus, TroTro, Kitovu, ThriveAgric & Farmcrowdy are all enabling the success of farming in Africa one way or another through their offerings, which are largely targeted at smallholder farmers who dominate farming within the region. At Hello Tractor, for instance, we use modern technologies such as IoT, Machine Learning, and Artificial Intelligence to power our farm equipment sharing application that connects tractor owners and smallholder farmers in emerging markets. Our solution not only grants tractor owners the ability to track their tractor and expand their tractors’ serviceable geography to grow their businesses, but also creates equitable access to tractor services for smallholder farmers, allowing them to be more productive on the farm, earn more and improve their livelihoods.

As much as we have been successful in capturing 75% of all commercial tractor sales in Nigeria and scaling up our business into new markets across Africa and Asia, we are constantly thinking through ways by which we can make our technology offering more robust and relevant for the agriculture sector even as it continues to evolve. We recently partnered with IBM to pilot an advanced analytics tool that is envisioned to enable financial institutions be more involved in investing in agriculture as that is one of the major challenges we identified to be limiting the ample supply of tractors across most emerging markets. By doing this, we are adding value to the ecosystem and enabling the sustainability of agriculture, which is a very important factor that companies creating new technologies to support farming need to keep in mind if the world is going to be able to feed itself by 2050.

Solutions such as ThriveAgric hold the promise to make farming more convenient for the average smallholder farmer who has a hard time pulling resources together to get access to modern tools that can spur their productivity on the farm.

ThriveAgric is another great example of an ag-tech company that has the potential to disrupt farming in Africa over the next 5 – 10 years. Their model is enabled by technology that allows individuals with investable income to fund farmers who don’t have the means to do so themselves, and then make a profit from their investment. This type of solution holds a promise to make farming more convenient for the average smallholder farmer who has a hard time pulling resources together to get access to modern tools that can spur their productivity on the farm. And because of its inclusive nature, the potential impact it could have on farmers a few years from now is huge.

With the involvement of digital technology, the future of farming in Africa seems quite promising. Farmers having access to quality information, funding, and other tools that make farming easier and more productive means more money in their pockets and ample food produced in a sustainable way. It truly is exciting to see one of the most pressing issues of our time: how will we feed the world, in a sustainable way, being addressed in so many creative ways by agtech startups across the world to bring about major transformation in the agricultural sector even as we march along into the future.

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