While agriculture across the African continent may not produce the types of yields seen in developed markets, the picture is starting to change somewhat with the arrival of digital applications.
As it stands, traditional small-scale farmers in Africa use techniques that produce the lowest yield per hectare globally. This is despite the continent having 60% of the world’s uncultivated arable land.
With the introduction of data and digital technologies to farming practices across Africa, there is an enormous potential to boost output and contribute to meeting the 70% increase in global demand by 2050.
The big opportunity for African agriculture lies in agritech and its ability to deliver information to farmers through data. These innovations empower farmers with the tools to make decisions that improve crop yield while enriching the entire agricultural supply chain.
We believe that modern farming practices are what’s needed to help Africa’s farmers make informed decisions around their crops and future strategies for growing. This has led to the bank’s investment in innovative solutions that leverage technology to provide tools and data to farmers.
Stanbic Bank Zambia, for example, is helping local farmers to track the health of their crops and farm more efficiently with digital satellite application Contour. Available on mobile and desktop, the app uses satellite imaging and analysis to give farmers satellite data, crop growth models, soil analysis mapping, weather data and more.
The app acknowledges that affordability can be a stumbling block for farmers looking to digitize and is available at about US5.50 per hectare.
This agritech innovation also improves the relationship between the farmer and funding partner, as it enables the bank to correctly assess risk – through the monitoring of crop performance – and accurately allocate capital and cover.
With the potential of agriculture to lift people of the African continent out of poverty and into the financial system, we have further committed $3 million towards a smart agriculture initiative aimed at empowering women farmers in Malawi, South Africa, Uganda and Nigeria.
Through the programme, over 15 000 farmer-beneficiaries will be exposed to groundnuts farming technologies. These are commercial entities that have received the opportunity to scale up and plug into the supply chains of larger corporates.
Research shows that women account for nearly half of the world’s smallholder farmers and produce 70% of Africa’s food. This highlights the importance of supporting women farmers to enable their growth and that of the continent.
As the uptake of agritech solutions continues, we continue to innovate to provide digitally enabled solutions to farmers that improve yield and contribute to the growth and development of Africa’s economies.