Is Africa’s development in any race? What are the contending sectors that can make Africa develop at a faster pace?
Agriculture is the major sector around which the domestic economy of most African countries revolve. It employs more than half of the population. It is therefore evident that Agriculture is inevitably integral in the development of Africa, apart from employing most people, it is also a foreign exchange earner. Most African countries are well known for farm produce such as cocoa. This being said, efficiency is key in improving how much benefit we derive from agriculture as a continent.
Wiki defines Agritech as the use of technology in agriculture, horticulture and aquaculture with the aim of improving yield, efficiency, and profitability. It includes products, services or applications derived from agriculture that improve various input/output processes. There are major challenges that Agriculture in Africa faces, including lack of water for irrigation, lack of readily available market for sale of farm produce, land acquisition, lack of financial instruments and Agriculture education. These are just a few and does not even consider the ripple effects these problems bring. Fortunately, technology has come a long way and it can solve or at least attempt to solve all or almost all of these listed challenges. These challenges cannot only be solved, it could be solved easily and cheaply depending on the solution provided. Compared to the benefits that investing in technology for the development of agriculture brings, Agritech presents itself as the cheapest and smartest choice.
For instance, a software application the enable farmers to list harvested crops they want to sell and shows it to buyers to purchase on a website/mobile app can be used to help reduce losses of farmers given that there is enough consumers even if not all consumption needs of the non-farming population is summed. Not only that, but farmers could buy tools, pesticides or fertilizers for cheaper prices on an online market place.
When there is the need to store harvested crops, microcontroller-based storage units that monitor and control the temperature and humidity levels can be used to efficiently store farm products for a longer time.
Areas that are drought prone or fall short on rains for a year-round cultivation could farm all year if there are proper automated irrigation schemes that are being monitored and controlled for efficient rationing. To reduce the cost of irrigation there could be a collection of farmers sharing a dam, which is equipped to monitor and control the water needs of each farm, with this there will be efficient use water which is already a scarce resource.
If there was digital documentation of who owns which land and that information was readily available upon request, it would be easy to lease land. If the government, or chiefs or any entity with vast acres of land could keep track of who it gives land to, it is possible to give large areas of land to people to start farming. Therefore large scale farming will be common.
Accessing loans could be made easier if groups of farmers could form credit unions or if a group of non-farmers could invest cash and share profits after harvesting. There are data gathering and management tools that can help provide tangible information for the control of crop yields or serve other purposes when the need be and also possible for farmers to get access to useful information that can help improve their crop yield, best farming practices are now easy to come by. Access to information is obviously important in improving any field and agriculture is no exception. That being said, Agriculture has enormous benefits and should be improved. With creative initiatives, there is no limit to the possibilities that technology can bring to Agriculture. As already established, Agriculture is certain to contribute to sustainable development and technology is what will maximize its potential.