Agritech -a simple term used for the deployment of machineries, digital tools and innovation in agricultural production -has become one of the top buzzwords used globally, in the recent past.
Although still a valid approach for fighting food security challenges in most developed countries, agritech companies in Africa and Asia have struggled to efficiently utilize technology in solving tough food security challenges, threatening the 2 major agrarian continents responsible for the production of over 80% of food consumed globally.
Unfortunately, the two world greatest food producing continents are yet to fully embrace agritech, as the acceptance lag keeps widening each day. This makes one really wonder if Africa will face the dreaded consequences of food insecurity and hunger.
But what we do not know, surprisingly, is that agritech has been practised since time immemorial in Africa; from the use of bulls to drive ploughs to the use of simple USSD codes to access top-notch agricultural extension services.
Just a few months ago, the world was hit by the Covid 19 pandemic. As a result, we all witnessed a global shut down and strict rules restricting movements. This led to an astronomical increase in global food consumption and demand rate but also caused a heart wrenching regression in food production and supply. Countries with agricultural companies that leveraged technology for production, logistics, transactions, inputs, supplies and marketing confidently survived the hunger crises that ravaged the world during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Unfortunately, for many countries across Asia and Africa that the adoption of agritech is slow, the impact of COVID-19 on food production and security was more visible such that their citizens suffered most from the hunger crises that erupted, consequent to the pandemic.
Farmers couldn’t buy inputs for food production as they were restricted from visiting agro-commodity stores, while most who depend on traditional trading systems couldn’t sell their products as major food markets were shut down for a long period of time.
Even though some farmers have automated their farm marketing process using available technological innovations and agri-marketing enabling platforms could receive requests for products and accept e-payments for food items, these farmers had issues with accessing logistic companies that could help them deliver products to clients.
There is a need to rethink and adopt agritech particularly in Africa, because agritech does not only prepare farmers, consumers and agricultural investors against potential crises; it creates a simplified process for replacing conventional farming approaches that stifle agricultural productivity and food security.