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Serving smallholder farmers in a digital age

Across ACP countries, women face serious challenges in establishing successful agribusinesses, including access to markets, market intelligence, finance and other business services. Women also often lack the technical, management and leadership skills needed to drive an enterprise forward. Empowering women to overcome these challenges, as well as promoting youth entrepreneurship and employment, are key to CTA’s work. And ICTs can be a game changer in creating an enabling environment for women and youth.

VALUE4HER--a new joint initiative between CTA, the Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF) and the African Women in Agribusiness Network (AWAN) will establish an agribusiness intelligence network harnessing the power of ICTs to foster better links with markets, supply chains and other service providers, including financing partners. 

VALUE4HER will help women to develop agribusinesses and to derive more income from agri-food markets. As Irene Ochem, founder and CEO of AWIEF put it at the launch of the project in Nairobi, Kenya, in July 2018, "We want to bring in more young women to be job creators and not just job seekers." To highlight the market practices and policies that will enable women to succeed in agribusiness, CTA and AWIEF will convene a high-level panel at the 4th Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum to be held in Cape Town, South Africa, in November 2018. 

Transforming the agriculture sector through digitalisation and promoting young women’s entrepreneurship is also an integral part of CTA’s 2018 Pitch AgriHack competition. The contest has attracted over 300 applications from young e-agripreneurs. The 26 finalists, mostly women, will receive training during the 2018 African Green Revolution Forum in Kigali, Rwanda, where they will also have a unique opportunity to interact with business leaders and policymakers. The winners will receive prizes and follow up business coaching opportunities. For more information, see https://tinyurl.com/y9ncm45w.

Digitalisation is a strong theme in this edition of Spore, and I believe a critical opportunity that must also be harnessed at the policy level to truly transform agriculture. We are also pleased to feature interviews and articles that highlight women’s empowerment, including from Dr Maxime Houinato of UN Women who stresses that women cannot be ignored if agriculture is to be transformed. He emphasises that women play a vital role in adopting new climate-resilient farming practices, a theme that is also featured in our article on the role of agriculture in building resilience in fragile states.

In this issue

Interview

Data on all levels is very valuable to the value chain

The Executive Director of the Secretariat for Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) is André Laperrière. Here, he describes what GODAN have to do to raise awareness about the potential of agricultural data and how to get policymakers and donors on-board.

Dossier
Issue

Increasing amounts of agricultural data are being produced at faster speeds, using a greater variety of technologies and innovations than ever before. But what is the value of information sharing for smallholders, and what are the risks?

News

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New climate-smart tools and structures are expected to increase crop production and diversity in the Caribbean, leading to a more sustainable regional food supply and greater food security.

News

A private processing company in Rwanda is working with thousands of farmers to train them in the production of fortified crops for processing into nutritious products. Their partnership is increasing profits for local smallholders as well as helping to combat Rwanda’s high levels of malnutrition.

Analysis

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Aggregating information about farm location and production in farmer profiles helps companies to tailor their support for smallholders, but how can this data be securely managed and transferred to rural farmers for their benefit?

Field report

The use of tubular nets in seaweed farming is enabling women farmers in Zanzibar to cultivate profitable varieties. Through training in seaweed processing, the farmers are also producing innovative products for the food and beauty industries.

News

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.

Increasing amounts of agricultural data are being produced at faster speeds, using a greater variety of technologies and innovations than ever before. But what is the value of information sharing for smallholders, and what are the risks?