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Smart-tech and innovation

Smallholders are regulating their water supply using solar-powered sensors linked to drip irrigation systems and their mobile phones

© Illuminum Greenhouses

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In Toledo district, farmers are earning three times the going rate for their turmeric by supplying a local processing company to produce the world’s first ‘wildcrafted’ whole root turmeric paste.

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A Samoan NGO has mapped small coconut farms to get a better understanding of farmers’ production capacity. It has also developed applications to provide farmers with local trading opportunities.

Technical solutions to food tracking, traceability and distribution are enabling agribusinesses along the value chain to better manage and expand their operations. Such innovations also help farmers and farmer organisations to establish and strengthen links with buyers.

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A group of partners are developing a blockchain-powered ecosystem across Africa that they say will boost investment into agricultural infrastructure, allow smallholder farmers to borrow more cheaply and stimulate consumer activity in rural economies.

In 2013, stringent standards for exports into the EU caused a hike in rejected produce from Kenya – and a huge blow to its horticulture industry. Now, a digital traceability system is helping to rebuild the sector, providing precise accountability from field to export.

New technologies are helping to transform dairy farming into an increasingly lucrative occupation for Kenyan smallholders. The use of digital weighing scales and solar-powered refrigerated transportation units are helping to minimise waste and maximise farmer profits.

In collaboration with nutritionists, software developers and farmers in developing countries, Dutch consultancy firm, Single Spark, has helped to develop an app that instructs farmers how to prepare the optimum livestock feed to meet their needs.

Dr Eleni Gabre-Madhin, CEO and Founder of blueMoon – Ethiopia’s first youth agribusiness incubator – shares her experience as a woman entrepreneur in Africa’s agricultural sector and stresses the importance that agribusinesses ‘think digital’.

In the Pacific, three seafood companies using sustainable fishery practices to conserve the health of marine ecosystems and contribute to the local economy have received international recognition for their novel business models.

In ACP countries, the use of smart ‘connected’ devices in agriculture is still at an experimental stage. Yet new projects are emerging, and global trends show how this new technology offers vital development opportunities.

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As African farms remain under siege from fall armyworms, new strategies to help control the spread and combat the effects of the pest are showing early signs of promise.