Agriculture is the backbone of the African economy. The agricultural sector accounts for 30-60 percent of national GDP and two-thirds of Africans work in agriculture. Women smallholder farmers in particular are key to food security in Kenya Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda and Ethiopia. They make up between 42 percent and 70 percent of the agricultural labor force.
However, the Covid-19 pandemic has brought new challenges. Combined with the effects of climate change and social factors, the countries have experienced their first recession in 25 years. We spoke with Ms. Chacha, program manager for our partner at the FSPN office in Kenya, to learn how the Digital Agriculture Africa project is developing and the role it plays for women.
In Kenya, customary rights still apply to a large extent, which do not allow women to own land. They mainly contribute to the food security of their own household and community, while men dominate the commercialized agricultural sector. Due to lack of educational opportunities, they lack access to finance. Due to additional care work, such as the household and caring for children, and a growing digital divide, they tend to achieve lower agricultural yields.
Ms. Chacha is aware of these issues. She, too, farms her own farm and joined Agritech with a desire to curb disease by combating malnutrition. Digital Agriculture Africa (DAA) provides digital farm-to-fork solutions to smallholder farmers: Through open-source platforms, they have access to resources, information, finance, and potential new markets. More than 110,000 transactions have already been made in the countries and 1.3 million farmers are expected to be trained by the end of 2023.
In the interview, Ms. Chacha explains that FSPN Africa focuses on youth and women, contributing to greater food security. Thanks to its focus on groups of independent smallholder farmers, the project has far exceeded its first-phase goals. Created in collaboration with GIZ’s #SmartDevelopmentFund, DAA promotes digital literacy, with a focus on creating sustainable linkages to ensure that farmers can continue to benefit from the offerings after the project ends.
A distinctive feature of the project is that it reaches out to the most marginalized groups. Ms. Chacha recalls one farmer who could not remember the last time she experienced access to education. This micro-level impact helps to underpin and bring to life the impressive numbers that Digital Agriculture Africa has achieved.
For more information on Digital Agriculture Africa or any of the other #SmartDevelopmentFund initiatives, visit sdf.d4dhub.eu.