AfDB, FAO advocate digitalisation of Agriculture value chain to spur green revolution for Africa

..say population growth, changing diets, others could drive African food market to $1trn by 2030

The Africa Develoment Bank in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organisations (FAO) has stressed on the need for Africa to seize the opportunity of the COVID-19 pandemic to deepen the digitalization of agricultural value chains, transform the sector and spur green revolution for Africa .

The Africa Development Bank at a webinar jointly hosted with the FAO Investment Centre identified potential investments for the digital transformation of African agriculture during and after COVID-19, ranging from digital profiling of value chain actors to mobile payments and e-commerce.

Martin Fregene, Director of Agriculture and Agro-Industries, AFDB, said that countries must use the wave of interest to build digital platforms that facilitate linkages between value chain actors at much-reduced transaction costs.

“The spread of COVID-19 has disrupted agri-food systems across Africa. Key supply chains have been interrupted, markets closed and movement restricted, resulting in agricultural labor shortages. Farmers are missing planting seasons, while agribusinesses are facing liquidity constraints”.

“Demand for catering has dwindled and consumer preferences have shifted away from highly perishable foods, like fruits and vegetables, meat and fish, to ones with longer shelf-lives”.

Ed Mabaya, Manager of the Bank’s Agri-business Division, said that population growth, coupled with the expanding middle class, youth bulge, and changing diets could drive the value of the African food market to $1 trillion by 2030.

“The growth of digital, data-driven and tech-enabled solutions can trigger a new green revolution for Africa, addressing some of the challenges and constraints along the entire value chain, from input supply to the consumer end, he noted.

FAO Investment Officer, Gerard Sylvester stressed that as the pandemic gradually shifts from an emergency response to recovery and resilience, there is an opportunity to build back better in the agricultural sector, noting that financial inclusion will be a game-changer in rural communities.

“Efforts need to be catalysed on both the policy and investment fronts for digitalization to help make agri-food systems more productive, more inclusive and more sustainable in the future.

“We need to ensure that costs are not a barrier, that small-scale farmers can adopt and apply digital advisory and other knowledge products and that the content is relevant, localized and actionable.”

In his remarks, Benjamin Addom, Team Leader, ICT for Agriculture at the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA), noted that digitalisation is critical for the agricultural sector due to the potential negative impact of the health crisis on economic recovery and food security.

“We need to understand the linkage between digital agriculture solutions and services with big data and analytics, viable business models, and the enabling environment required to be able to fully realise digitalisation for agriculture during recovery and sustainability,” he said.

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