Vodacom and GIZ launch mobile technology solution for South African farmers

10 February 2017


Vodacom has partnered with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) on behalf of the German Government and Manstrat Agricultural Intelligence Solutions to launch a mobile technology solution to support South African smallholder farmers into commercial agriculture. With an estimated combined investment amount of €1.5 million (around R21 million) over three years, the ‘Connected Farmer’ platform, a cloud-based web and mobile software solution, will link thousands of smallholder farmers to the agriculture value chain enabling access to information, services and markets.

The Internet of Things (IoT) has a much wider impact on nation economies and in the case of agriculture, IoT is expected to help improve agriculture productivity, address food security, create jobs and increase incomes in the agriculture sector. The project will support participating agribusinesses to promote sustainable agricultural practices among smallholder farmers.

Vuyani Jarana, Chief Officer for Vodacom Business says: “Vodacom believes that ICT provides innovative solutions to address Africa’s societal and economic challenges. Leveraging the successful implementation of Connected Farmer projects in East Africa, we are laying the foundation for inclusive growth in the agriculture sector through integrated value chains in agriculture. Africa is a net importer of cereal, yet it is endowed with greater proportions of arable land. For Africa to be able to feed itself, the application of ICT based solutions like the Connected Farmer is critical.”

Christiane Kalle, GIZ Country Director South Africa and Lesotho, says: “German development cooperation views ICT solutions as having huge potential to support smallholder farmers in the commercial agriculture segment through linking farmers and agribusinesses to potential buyers and services. At the same time, we find that producing agricultural goods sustainably and at high quality, is key to the farmers’ success. With this initiative, we address both of these challenges and expect significant employment effects.”

Food security in South Africa remains a challenge, with just 30 000 commercial farmers being responsible for most of the country’s food production. Over 200 000 smallholder farmers and an estimated 2 million subsistence farmers have an important role to play in food security and poverty reduction, yet their access to markets, information and finance is limited or non-existent. There is also a lack of available data on smallholder farmers and their supply chains, which is a barrier to informed decision-making by agribusinesses and policy makers.

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Source: R News 3 February 2017