+27 71 448 3496
leon@whyafrica.co.za

Technology will enable sustainable farming in Africa

Share Article
Technology makes it possible for farmers to farm more effectively and with increased precision without having to be on the farm. Image credit: Syspro Africa

Technology will enable sustainable farming in Africa

Small-scale farmers and expansive agricultural enterprises are actively embracing technology to increase production and to ensure efficient and sustainable farming.    

By Marius Wessels, Manager: Professional Services for Syspro Africa

By the year 2050, the global population is projected to surpass mine billion, presenting a substantial challenge in ensuring an adequate food supply for everyone.

Addressing this imperative, the agricultural sector must undergo a remarkable transformation, aiming to increase production by approximately 69% from 2010 to 2050.

Farmers spanning from small-scale cultivators to expansive agricultural enterprises are actively embracing intelligent farming techniques and cutting-edge technologies to navigate this effort.

This concerted effort is geared towards optimising production processes, pre-empting market demands, mitigating potential adversities, and swiftly adapting to fluid market dynamics.

This progressive shift brings a new level of intelligence into farming operations, making more sustainable and efficient farming possible.

Connectivity will alleviate pressure on farmers (Technology will enable sustainable farming in Africa)

This shift in what farming looks like and how agriculture is done signals a revolution in the industry; with new technologies set to push the sector to take the next giant innovation leap.

But this cannot and will not happen without the right foundations. These include, among other things, reliable connectivity and clean data.

According to research from McKinsey & Co., if connectivity is implemented successfully across the agricultural industry, the sector could contribute an additional USD500-billion in value to global gross domestic product by 2030.

This would alleviate much of the pressure on farmers. But even in more digitally advanced economies, the percentage of farmers using connected equipment is low. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, these numbers plummet further when you look at farms in countries where network coverage is low, and the high cost of connectivity remains prohibitive.

Digital farming can optimise farming operations (Technology will enable sustainable farming in Africa )

Moving on to the data side of things, there is incredible potential for farmers to collect more data and then leverage this information to improve everything from the amount of water they use to irrigate their crops to how much they charge for their products when they sell them on down the supply chain if retailers don’t dictate the price.

But data quality is critical. Across the tech industry, the cautionary adage: “garbage in, garbage out” is widely used to showcase that the input’s quality determines the output’s quality.

In the agricultural industry, digital farming can optimise complex farming operations, but only if the data fed into these systems is accurate, clean, and current. Poor data renders good technology tools unreliable, and manufacturing industries have already realised that clean data is required to feed forecasts of demand versus supply and what will sell.

When agricultural ERPs are fed the correct data – for example, information on long-term market and global trends in food consumption and preferences and shorter-term help in where the best purchasers of crop and meat produce are – they deliver customised reports and dashboards featuring data-based insights, so farmers have all the information they need to make the best decisions.

In addition, predictive analytics can forecast trends such as the growing super-health trend, providing insights on effectively differentiating processes, products, and distribution to feed lucrative markets.

ERP solutions can also be used to understand and anticipate how to quickly redistribute or recycle quantities of potential food waste, such as offcuts, near-use dates, etc., to needy and starving markets.

Precision farming is the future ((Technology will enable sustainable farming in Africa)

In action, these systems make it possible for farmers to farm more effectively – and with increased precision – without actually having to be on the farm. This additional layer of efficiency is critical because if the globe’s farmers are to increase their productivity and yield enough to feed future generations, they need to develop ways to reduce waste, conserve their resources, and mitigate the effects of climate and economic change.

Currently, cropland expansion serves as one of the main strategies to boost agricultural production in countries worldwide. But this expansion is also a significant driver of biodiversity decline. With the right tools in place, farmers needn’t expand their footprint.

Tools such as IoT devices arming Machine Learning (ML) with terabytes of raw data to drive AI to distil clear, reliable insights to farmers to de-risk their ‘gut feel’ and support data-led decision-making.

Efficient processes powered by technology (Technology will enable sustainable farming in Africa)

Farmers can implement measures to ensure their processes are as efficient as possible. In action, GPS-equipped tractors could be used to monitor and manage the usage of farming equipment and, thus, reduce energy consumption.

Sensors can be fitted to silos to trigger automated reordering when stock reaches a certain level which lowers inventory costs. In addition, trackers can be fitted to livestock to curb disease outbreaks and crops to improve observation and care.

Using autonomous farming equipment, farmers can operate a variety of equipment at the same time and without any need for human intervention. Weather tracking tools empower farmers to manage better increasing environmental pressures and the economic impact of unexpected weather events.

All of this provides modern farmers with unprecedented visibility, enabling them to maximise their resources and mitigate any uneconomical and inefficient farming practices.

Collaboration is key (Technology will enable sustainable farming in Africa)

As outlined above, adequate foundations must be in place to deliver any of this. Ensuring this happens demands that governments, industry stakeholders, policymakers, and any other relevant actors work together, including funding the application and growing the uptake of this technology.

Agriculture players must partner with telcos to ensure they have the connectivity they need to leverage new connected agriculture ecosystems. The public sector must work alongside industry to improve the development and deployment of broadband networks, particularly in the rural areas of Africa.

If the industry is to drive progress and maximise its potential in the future, the time to act is now. As farming feeds, the local and global population, data will provide the technology that drives effective, lower-waste farm-to-consumer channels. The switch to technology is crucial to avoid future food poverty.

Technology will enable sustainable farming in Africa

ADVERTISEMENT

WhyAfrica provides on the ground information and business intelligence about the sustainable utilisation and extraction of natural resources in Africa, and can assist your company through:  

  1. Membership:
  • WhyAfrica’s membership offers great business insights to you, your company, and clients.
  • Amongst many other benefits, we will publish editorial content about you or your company on the WhyAfrica online platform and on all WhyAfrica’s social media pages – the annual fee is R5,500 and you can find out more or subscribe here: https://www.whyafrica.co.za/product/membership/ 
  1. Sponsorship:
  • WhyAfrica’s Road Trip takes place annually in July and August. During our Road Trip we aim to visit more than 30 project sites. Sponsoring the Road Trip, or to be a WhyAfrica member, gives you unparalleled insight into the business environment of the countries that we travel to and the project sites we visit.
  • To be a member or sponsor allows you access to invaluable, on the ground, business intelligence and a great marketing opportunity for all companies doing business in Africa.
  • The main aim of our Road Trips is to promote Africa as an investment destination and to showcase Africa’s greatest companies, and projects to our large global audience, which includes a list of potential investors, venture capitalists and serial entrepreneurs.
  • To view the photos of this year’s Southern Africa Road Trip click on the gallery link or follow our Instagram account at why.africa https://www.whyafrica.co.za/road-trips/whyafrica-road-trips/. 
  1. Advertising:
  • We publish daily online articles on our WhyAfrica platform and post them on social media every day. Our combined online reach is more than 45,000. In-article banner ads are highly successful advertising tools as is advertising space on our website.
  • In addition to our bi-weekly newsletters, we publish two printed- and two interactive digital magazines per year. The printed magazines are distributed at major events and conferences throughout the year, and also on our WhyAfrica Road trips.
  • Digital magazines are e-mailed to all our subscribers and shared on our social media platforms. A copy of the latest edition is automatically attached to all our outgoing e-mails.
  • WhyAfrica magazines provide great marketing opportunities. There are also in-article and on-line advertising opportunities at exceptional rates. Contact me for more information on leon@whyafrica.co.za or give me a call.
  • To subscribe to WhyAfrica’s free newsletters and magazines click on the link and register: https://www.whyafrica.co.za/subscribe/  
  1. 4. Partnerships
  • Maximise your African exposure and link with our large business network through becoming one of only 10 WhyAfrica partners. We have only five prime partnership positions left for 2023, so contact me at leon@whyafrica.co.za to get the best deal. 

Technology will enable sustainable farming in Africa

 

Share Article

Sectors

AgricultureEnvironmental Management & Climate ChangeEnergyESGInfrastructureMiningPolitical EconomyTourism and ConservationWater Management