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Thursday, 25 October 2018

New technology gives push to Africa’s agriculture industry

Tech startups are helping improve Africa’s agriculture industry and could lift mns out of poverty, according to the FT.Africa’s agriculture industry is being held back by traditional equipment and outdated tech, but new technology has in recent years had a positive impact on yields. African and international agritech companies are seeing major untapped potential in Africa, which has more than a quarter of the world’s arable land and whose agriculture industry — worth USD 100 bn a year — contributes 15% to the continent’s GDP.

Visible change: Some African countries have already begun seeing improvement in quality and production with the help of new technology. Boston-based Precision Agriculture for Development (PAD), a non-profit organization, has helped Kenya increase its sugar cane yields by 11.5%. “Providing farmers with information and recommendations tailored to their local soil, weather and market conditions could dramatically improve yields and net incomes for farmers,” says PAD’s Director of Operations Megan Sheahan. Similarly, digital platform AgroCenta helped Ghanaian farmers sell their crops to big corporations like Nestle and Diageo.

Obstacles: Low internet access andhigh illiteracy rates in rural areas have made it difficult for tech companies to penetrate the African market as fast as it would like to. On the other hand, access to technology poses concerns that small-scale farmers might turn to methods that temporarily boost yields, but harm the soil on the long-term.

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