Rural Connections are Bringing Innovation to African Farms

03 October 2019

Like a snowflake or a fingerprint, we are all so different. We have different likes and dislikes, different habits, live in different countries and continents. The human race is a fantastic mix of individuals born into the world with their own unique path to follow. As different as we are, we are also all the same in so many ways.

It doesn’t matter who you are, where you are, or what you do – the need to feed our human bodies is one of life’s great equalizers. Food is something that some of us take for granted, and that others have in such minimal amounts that they can barely stay alive. We have a food problem. According to an organization called Future Agenda, the world will need 60% more calories per day to feed 9 billion people by 2050. And yet the world wastes 2 billion tonnes of food every year. A large portion of that food is wasted at an agricultural level – before it even reaches a factory or your dinner table. If ever we needed a reason to use technology to solve a global problem, this is it.

The UN reports that almost half of the African population relies on agriculture to make a living. Imagine the potential to solve our food problem if we could enable half the African population, 530 million people, to farm more efficiently? It all starts with a connection. When farmers are connected, Internet of Things solutions become a reality.

MTN has over 1000 rural sites, taking us closer to a truly connected continent.

The Internet of Things has become a major contributor to a concept called precision agriculture. The objectives in combining technology with farming include higher yields, reduction of operating costs and an overall increase in efficiency. One example can be found in Kenya. A company called UjuziKilimo installs sensors in farm soil which send data to farmers’ mobile devices. This data includes weather updates which helps farmers decide when to plant seeds in our ever-changing climate, and even information about soil quality. Farmers only need to send a text message to UjuziKilimo for the team to come out and begin with a farm-analysis. And when farmers are connected, they are able to share the data they receive with their neighbours – spreading the knowledge, and amplifying the impact so that everyone is maximizing the potential of their own farms. In South Africa, farmers are also making use of mobile apps to send alerts about pest problems and receive weather updates and other farming related advice.

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A sustainable farm is a successful one which makes a far-reaching impact. More people can be employed in the agriculture sector when farming is efficient, and more food is produced to feed our growing global population.

All of these solutions are only possible because of our natural eagerness to innovate, and the ability to do so with technology and connectivity as a solid foundation. Technology and people truly can be good together – and that’s food for thought!

Global Farmer Network – Rwanda Leadership Honoured
Farmers Weekly – New Smartphone Apps to Help Farmers
Brookings – Foresight Africa 2016