How mobile, AI and drone tech are fighting food insecurity in Africa

Agriculture in Africa is making use of emerging technology to innovate Here is a selection of startups that are developing technological solutions to improve the farming industry.

Africa  >  Uganda  >  Kisoro  >  landscape / mountains / hills / farms / villages
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The specter of hunger and food insecurity is stalking the African continent. Border closures, curfews and lockdowns to combat the coronavirus mean that food supply chains are being disrupted and people's ability to feed themselves is threatened. This is in addition to regular climate shocks, outbreaks of armed conflict and even recent plagues of locusts, so it comes as little surprise that the World Bank issued a stark warning that agricultural production in Africa is likely to contract between 2.6 percent and 7 percent in the coming months.

Nevertheless, across sub-Saharan Africa, a young and dynamic population is embracing agriculture technology (agritech) based on artificial intelligence, mobile platforms, and drones that offer ways to combat the various threats to agriculture. Agritech startups like Cape Town-based Aerobotics are attracting significant venture funding, which should further fuel efforts to make the food supply chain more resilient.

Of course, agritech in Africa is not a new phenomenon -- startups have been active in the market since 2010. In the major economies of the sub-Saharan region, farming accounts for approximately 15% of GDP, and two-thirds of all Africans are involved in agricultural production.  According to a Brookings research report, food production needs to grow by 60 percent over the next dozen years  to feed the expanding population. In these circumstances, the importance of successful agritech initiatives is vital.

Although the challenges facing farm workers can vary greatly depending on the location of the farm and the sociopolitical context in which it exists, one thing is constant across the continent's agriculture industry: If you can't get your product to market, you can't sustain your livelihood.

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