As the world progresses into a digital era, the need for efficient and sustainable agricultural practices is becoming increasingly essential, particularly in Africa. Today, we will explore agriculture’s past, present, and future in Africa. We will also examine the successes and failures of past initiatives, the current state, and future trends in Africa’s agriculture.
1. The Traditional Way
Traditional African farming methods have been used in many parts of the continent since time immemorial. Most of these techniques have been passed down from generation to generation.
This archaic way of farming had several advantages, such as the ability to produce a wide variety of crops using minimal inputs. Other benefits include soil fertility preservation and reduced risk of soil erosion. However, traditional farming methods are often inefficient and unsustainable, resulting in low yields and limited market access.
From Old to New: The Transition to Modern Farming
When COVID-19 struck, specialists and farmers couldn’t meet, so they opted to use digital ways of communicating. Farmers would turn to online platforms to buy their seeds. The pandemic also led to the rise of mobile applications such as Climate App, which helps farmers keep track of soil temperatures for maximum productivity.
In Kenya, farmers began selling directly to consumers without going through third parties. This led to them earning more money for their produce. During the pandemic, we also saw the rise of platforms such as Mkulima Young that connected farmers with markets.
2. The Modern Way of Farming
As digital transformation takes Africa by the storm, modern farmers have switched to using the latest tools and techniques to increase the efficiency of their operations. For example, we are now seeing a shift towards precision agriculture, which uses technology to measure and monitor environmental conditions, monitor crop growth, and optimize crop yields. Modern farming has led to advances such as:
“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail,” said Benjamin Franklin. Today, farmers use several digital tools to plan their harvest. These include using weather apps to check weather conditions and using software to alert them on the possibility of a pest and disease breakout. Platforms such as online garden have also come up to help farmers create seasonal plans.
Data-Driven Farm Management
Since the pandemic, many farmers have transitioned to basing their decisions on accurate data. This has led to many of them optimizing their yields and production costs. For example, farmers who irrigate their crops at will risk overwatering or underwatering their crops. On the other hand, farmers who use technology such as the Climate App can measure the soil temperature and determine how much water their crops need. This prevents them from overwatering their plants and improves the quality of yields they produce.
Better Tracking Costs
Gone are the days when farmers sat down with calculators to tally their costs. In our digital era, software have been made to help farmers keep track of their expenses and calculate their profits. Some accounting software that farmers can use includes:
- Quickbooks– This comprehensive accounting software package is designed for managing finances associated with small businesses, including farms. It allows farmers to keep track of all aspects of their business, including income, expenses, payroll, inventory, and more.
- Xero– This is an affordable cloud-based accounting software that is best suited for small-scale farmers. It is easy to use and offers a dashboard that allows farmers to easily monitor their expenses, track income, and generate reports.
- Wave- This is a free accounting software package that offers a variety of features to help farmers manage their finances. Additionally, Wave offers a free mobile app, allowing farmers to access their financial information on the go.
3. The Future of Agriculture in Africa
Agricultural practices in Africa will continuously evolve as cutting-edge technologies and advances in sustainability continue being developed and implemented. We can expect to see the following changes in the agriculture sector:
Sustainable Food Production
With Responsible consumption and production as one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations, we expect to see more sustainable food production in the coming years. This means that more farmers will grow crops in a way that is both conscious of the environment and profitable to themselves.
Reactive Pest Control Replacing Preventative
Through the use of advanced technology, such as remote sensing, farmers will be able to monitor their crops better, identify and manage pests, and reduce their use of chemicals. To combat these pests, more farmers will use methods of pest control that are effective and environmentally friendly. This includes integrated pest management (IPM), which combines a range of tactics such as biological control and pest monitoring.
The future of farming is also likely to involve greater collaboration between African leaders and farmers to ensure that agricultural production is sustainable and meets the needs of Africa’s growing population. This could involve the use of mobile technology to share data, create better communication and coordination, and develop new ways of growing crops.
With agriculture among the industries most affected by digital transformation in Africa, the sector has the potential to revolutionize the continent’s food systems, create new economic opportunities, and improve the living standards of farmers and their families. There’s no doubt that Africa’s agricultural sector will continue to flourish and benefit the entire region and its people.