BRIDGING GAPS BETWEEN AGRI VALUE CHAINS IN AFRICA THROUGH ICT
The Agribusiness sector in Africa, is a sector with many opportunities for the global community. One being that of Geodata and technology.
ICT applications help farmers around the world with precision farming. They receive weather information and advice on which seeds or fertilizers to use and when to irrigate their plots. That leads to increased yields and improved quality. This information has not yet been made available to financial institutions at a large scale but it has an enormous potential to increase access to finance for smallholder farmers.
Despite this, much of the potential that ICTs hold for agricultural development remains unrealised, either because apps and information do not exist, or have not been sufficiently refined for intended users, or because potential users do not know about the technology or how to use it.
Important Factors That Should Not Be Overlooked When Improving Agricultural Efficiency Through ICT :
Technology itself is not sufficient, a well trained team is also required: Case studies show that investing solely in technology will not ensure successful implementation of ICT applications; it is necessary to invest in a team that can effectively perform M&E tasks, as well as to invest in capacity development of the end users who can ensure the sustainability of the project.
Complex ICT or complex platforms are not necessarily essential: Technologies already being used by farmers should be taken into consideration. For example, USAid's Feed the Future project employs a combination of traditional instruments to collect basic data in the field, which is then recorded in Excel sheets and subsequently shared free of cost with potential buyers in real-time through Drop Box.
Contextual factors: Local factors such as the lack of adequate resources must be taken into account beforehand (e.g electricity, gender issues, limited network coverage and low bandwidth, local languages). Implementation approaches need to identify the specific needs of the intended users by working in collaboration with them. There is not one single solution that fits all projects: context, policies, marketing efforts and incentives are all essential factors to ensure participation from community members.
Data integrity and security: must be ensured throughout the project and when using ICT applications. Experts agreed that leveraging location data and other metadata with individual records helps maintain integrity.