Smallholder farming, which is the backbone of many African economies, is set to be transformed by a combination of investment and greater access to information and communication technology, particularly mobile phones.
Michael Hailu, Director of the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation
Photo by: CTA
The claim was made today by Michael Hailu, Director of the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) at ICT4Ag, a major conference on ICTs in agriculture.
“On this continent, 65 per cent of the workforce is employed in agriculture and the sector generates 32 percent of GDP. Smallholder farmers, mostly women, produce 80 per cent of Africa’s food. African countries spend up to US$ 50 billion a year on food imports. With abundant land, water and cheap labour, there is no good reason why Africa should import so much food.
“Yet there’s good reason to be optimistic. After years of neglect, governments and the private sector are increasing investments in agriculture. Nevertheless, to achieve its full potential, smallholder agriculture must be transformed from a subsistence activity to a profitable, sustainable business. ICTs play a vital role in this transformation. They provide timely advice and information. They help farmers increase productivity. They make markets more efficient. And they increase incomes along the value chain”.