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Agriculture has the greatest potential of all sectors to reduce poverty, yet, droves of Africa’s youths are turning their backs on earning a living off fertile ancestral lands, mainly due to low productivity, low paying jobs, outdated techniques and the grueling demands associated with setting up and maintaining a farm with limited resources. Then there’s the irresistible allure of moving to urban centers to attain sustained economic growth, with countless youths often convinced that securing a prosperous future is largely dependent on making such a move.

12 million African youths enter the workforce every year, yet only 3.1 million jobs are created. A sustainable increase in food production cannot be achieved without a genuine commitment towards Pan-African collaboration coupled with smallholder farmers transitioning to using cutting-edge ag-tech to increase their effectiveness and yields, in so doing, lay down the groundwork for accelerated economic growth and self-reliance, in the face of growlingly unstable climatic and economic conditions.

By 2030, 90 percent of the world’s major food crops, including maize, rice, and wheat, will experience reduced or stagnant growth rates. Innovation and changes to current practices are inevitable. Leading food and agriculture corporations, governments, universities, development organizations and youth groups should do more to prioritize and create enabling environments for smallholder farmers to have access to equipment, trainings, up to date information on climate-smart techniques and advanced technologies that will help entice younger generations into the sector, through the guarantee of increased productivity and creating new career paths along agricultural value chains.

There are already some great examples of how working together and harnessing the power of technological innovations, created by young African entrepreneurs, for small holder farmers, is helping to slowly realize the untapped potential of the African agricultural sector to create wealth, help bridge the growing urban-rural divide and generate more jobs for unemployed youths.


Farm Management

Waziup, an Internet of things (IoT) and big data platform, extends Internet connectivity beyond conventional computing platforms and into a range of non-internet-enabled everyday devices. The platforms smart farming applications include ways of monitoring soil moisture, water storage tanks, cattle and field conditions. It can also track agro-management decisions such as date of sowing, irrigation, fertilizing and tilling. Waziup’s technology is adept at delivering in tough conditions, particularly in low power and long distance applications.


Improved Yields

SafiOrganics uses Ag-tech to downsize and decentralize the production of fertilizer that reduces soil acidity. Their technology makes it feasible to implement production using local resources and labor, available to any given village. This helps smallholders in rural areas reduce their logistical costs and produce a high-quality product with improved yields of up to 30%.



E-Agribusiness is an ICT platform that connects Togolese producers, consumers and traders living in remote areas, without access to the Internet and smartphones.  E-Agribusiness works to find new markets for farmers who have trouble selling their products. They deliver their solutions to farmers in various local languages by means of SMS, a mobile application, website and a call center.

Farm Fresh is helping smallholder farmers in The Gambia market fresh high quality local produce. The e-commerce platform specializes in marketing and selling locally grown fresh fruits, vegetables and processed food items. Farm Fresh is the first real-time online food store and delivery service in The Gambia.


Supply Chain

Twiga Foods allows grocers to access quality products, at cheaper prices, delivered directly to their shops. Providing vendors with a simple mobile-based ordering platform to purchase stock, and farmers with predictable pricing for their crops. Twiga works with more than 8,000 Kenyan farmers and over 5,000 vendors, linking smallholders in rural areas to retail vendors in cities.

iProcure’s supply chain platform offers complete procurement and last mile distribution services, providing businesses with intelligent and data-driven stock management across supply chains. Operating in rural Kenya, with its storage facilities strategically located to ensure extensive reach to their consumers, iProcure uses a predictive algorithm to ensure the most popular goods are always available.


Crowd-Funding for Agriculture

Seekewa’s crowd-funding platform allows Internet users and companies to help smallholder farmers in the Ivory Coast find the resources they need to carry out their projects. An ingenious voucher system enables the purchasing of goods and services, which are then sold to the farmer, with farmers paying back the investment within a year.


Market Access & Information

Abalobi’s mobile application enables small-scale fish folk in South Africa to be integrated into information and resource networks. The mobile application has the potential to impact 100, 000 families who depend on small-scale fisheries for a living, through the use of mobile and cloud-based ICT.

Farmerline is transforming Ghanaian smallholder farmers into successful entrepreneurs by increasing their access to information, inputs, and resources to increase their productivity. Farmerline partners with mobile networks and agricultural organizations to distribute up-to-date content to farmers in Ghana and beyond.


Tractor Hailing Service

Hello Tractor, an ag-tech social enterprise connects tractor owners and smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa through a digital tractor-sharing app. Smallholders simply request an affordable tractor service, while remote asset tracking and virtual monitoring systems help to safeguard the tractor owner’s asset.

Trotro Tractor’s mobile platform links Ghanaian farmers with tractor operators. The platform allows tractor owners to monitor movement and work progress of their equipment. Farmer’s can request, schedule and pay for tractor services via SMS, the tractor operators then receive a request to plough a farm on their end.


Storage & Cold Chain Distribution

SolarFreeze uses an integrated approach to post-harvest management to help smallholder’s farmers in Kenya deal with post-harvest losses. SolarFreeze’s mobile app and Internet of Things (IoT) platform helps to monitor Cold-Chain distribution networks and fresh produce being delivered to clients in solar powered cold rooms and energy efficient trucks.


Precision Agriculture

Nataal-Imaging believes that precision agriculture and natural resource management is key to achieving sustainable and inclusive economic development.  Working with local farmers, Nataal provides accurate and reliable monitoring using drones, to help the farmers make better decisions and understand the health of their crops, through analysis of high-resolution images from satellites. Nataal’s Precision Agriculture services allow Senegalese farmers to reduce their overheads while optimizing yields.

AgroData is a multi-channel platform that promotes precision agriculture in Nigeria by leveraging the use of Remote Sensing/Geo-Information Systems. AgroData is helping to increase rural farmers yields, detect pests and crop diseases, reduce overhead costs and improve rural livelihoods. The platform also provides detailed information on suitability maps, climatic conditions and best -fit varieties.



SunCulture is a mobile enabled, solar-powered irrigation system aimed at Kenyan smallholder farmers. SunCulture uses pay-as-you-go technology to ensure rural communities can afford and have access to water pumping solutions. The best feature of Suncunlture’s ag-tech is that it allows for flexibility and reliability through remote monitoring, predictive maintenance, and performance optimization features.

Saagga’s Autonomous Drip Irrigation System allows smallholders in Burkina Faso, who are largely dependent on rainfall, to mechanize the process of watering of their crops when the humidity level decreases. The inventive system also helps to optimize water use, a tool particularly useful for famers in arid and semi-arid regions. The main aim of the ag-tech project is to contribute to combating rising hunger rates in Africa.


A deficiency in agriculture jobs for Africa’s youths will constitute a gross failure to capitalize on the continent’s two greatest assets for rapid growth; a large number of gifted young people and 60 percent of the world’s suitable farmland. 

Harnessing the transformative potential of ICTs in agriculture is therefore imperative for providing a platform to accelerate efforts towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals for Africa. Ensuring that 263 million young people will not lack an economic stake in the system by 2025.


The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the Future Africa Forum.