The case studies conducted in Africa show that the positive impact of access to mobile technology for smallholder farmers and farmers underscores the importance of pushing for universal access to digital technology, especially mobile phone-based technology, to help farmers on the African continent the impact of climate change.
Vodacom Group, Vodafone, Safaricom and the United Nations Capital Development Fund support this study in the report they co-authored, Towards a Connected Climate.
This study is the third in a series of six sections published under the Africa.Connected campaign, launched to help bridge the digital divides that are holding back sustainable progress in key economic sectors in Africa such as agriculture.
The use of technology to enable smallholder farmers to increase their resilience is important as they make up a large part of the farming sector. The continent is home to about 250 million smallholder farmers, but even though sub-Saharan Africa contains a quarter of the world’s arable land, McKinsey points out, it produces only 10 percent of the world’s total agricultural output.
“Sustainability in increasing agricultural productivity is essential,” says Takalani Nchitenze, Director of Foreign Affairs at Vodacom South Africa.
Technology plays a major role in this as a tool for development, and there is anecdotal and unconfirmed evidence of this development in the markets in which Vodacom operates on the mainland, where the penetration rate of smartphones is still low, with no more than the proportion smallholder farmers. ” The impact of climate change represents climate change in various parts of the world. Africa poses a major threat to agricultural development represented in extreme weather conditions such as increasing severity and frequency of droughts, extreme heat, erratic rainfall, severe storms and floods.
Farmers in developing markets are usually more vulnerable to changing weather patterns than farmers in developed countries. Extreme and unpredictable weather conditions cause increased crop instability, impede livestock productivity, and increase the potential for pest and disease outbreaks, which in turn have a major impact on the economy.
To this end, Vodacom remains committed to reducing its carbon emissions by 50% by 2050 to contribute to the achievement of climate change targets set by the governments of the markets in which it operates under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. “There is no doubt that the deployment of mobile-based technology should be complemented by access to low-cost devices, affordable network and data coverage especially for people in underserved and underdeveloped areas. For this purpose, government, private sector and civil society should continue to work hand in hand to connect disadvantaged rural areas to ensure that no one is left behind. ” Success has crystallized Vodacom has come a long way in responding to the call to action by increasing network coverage in the rural areas of its market and so far providing affordable phones to millions of Africans.
“The examples, where Vodacom operates on the mainland, show how simple mobile-based technology offers opportunities, even to farmers who use basic functional phones, no matter where they are,” Ntchenze said. Inclusion also requires dedicated products and services to all market segments, in places where smartphone penetration remains low, with innovative data-driven solutions being developed and made available to anchor the development agenda. URL and USSD-based platforms that provide access to financial services and agricultural opportunities, for example, can easily connect smallholder farmers to the agricultural value chain.
The M-Kulima mobile platform in Tanzania connects smallholder farmers with a wealth of information and resources via SMS, USSD and IVR. The platform provides real-time weather forecasts, helps farmers plan to deal with climate change and provides important market information to help farmers get the best price for their products.
This platform is also integrated with the financial services platform M-Pesa to enhance financial inclusion by providing a mobile money transfer service and allowing payments and microfinance operations. In addition, Kenya’s integrated DigiFarm platform – available through unstructured add-on data or through the application – provides everything a farmer needs from basic farming advice to the most advanced automated support, in the same way that the M-Kulima platform works. .
Vodacom in South Africa has entered into a partnership with UN Women and the South African Women and Agriculture Organization (SAWIF) to develop and launch the Women Farmers Program with the aim of making women’s work in agriculture easy and make them profitable by teaching them how to use applications to connect with potential. customers and massive economic growth. To date, the project has trained more than 2,000 women and the SAWIF database for women farmers is digital and accessible to women with training in business and computer basics. This program led to testimonials from the beneficiaries about how their approach to technology adoption and agriculture changed after they adopted the technology.
Examples like these demonstrate how mobile technology creates economic opportunities for farmers and even confidence in the use of technology and in helping student children to do their homework by using it. The Covid-19 pandemic has proven that digital transformation is central to the development agenda, and therefore ICT companies need to accelerate steps to remove barriers to access to communications by focusing on mobile, bandwidth, affordable devices, digital knowledge and affordable data . The Towards a Connected Climate report opens the door to urgent dialogue on the challenges facing the sector. Ntchitenze concluded, “By identifying where farmers are struggling and proposing a way forward against a technological background, we can bring about sustainable and impactful changes that promote climate-smart agriculture on the continent.