Role DATs Play in Africa

CTA, the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Co-operation, will be presenting the findings from their most recent study on Digitalisation for Agriculture. This study highlights the role digital AgTech companies play in increasing profitability and productivity of smallholder farmer by allowing them to leverage digital solutions and strengthening business innovations. Data was captured through a combination of surveys, one on one interviews, and desk research on over 150 companies across the continent.

Kenyan Context for DATs

This session will bring the findings from CTA’s continent-wide study down to the Kenyan level. It will provide a broad understanding of the where Kenya is in terms of DATs, the impact areas they are addressing, and the general ecosystem around them. It will set the stage for the following sessions, which will delve deeper into each of these areas with key experts and practitioners.

Advisory and Information for Agricultural Productivity Panel and Challenge

The average productivity of major crops in Kenya has not increased at a significant rate annually.  The maize productivity has increased by 17% over the last 10 years resulting in an annual increase of about 1.7%.  There are multiple reasons why growth in productivity has been slow. These include low access to extension and advisory services, including digitally enabled agripreneurs, lack of inputs and quality data. To reach their full potential, farmers need to have access to the latest technologies and data.

Climate change is also having a significant impact on farmers. About 98% of Kenya’s agricultural systems are rain-fed and highly susceptible to climate change and variability. Adoption of climate smart practices can help mitigate the impact of climate change and ensure predictability in yields for the farmers. Specifically, relying on input data such as soil and weather information, can help farmers increase the efficiency and effectiveness of their operations, and improve sustainable planning, production, and management systems.

This panel will bring together experts to discuss the different type of digital solutions in the market that facilitate the delivery of extension services, Climate State Agriculture advisory, and data information services directly to farmers. These services are important because they facilitate improved productivity in farming operations by providing tailored, credible feedback to farmers on what they should do in real-time. The panelist will discuss the impact that derives from equipping farmers with such knowledge and education.
Following the panel, there will be a pitch session from innovators, organizations, and businesses that have disrupted the lack of access to advisory services, data for farmers, and climate smart practices.

Challenge: How will your model help ensure Kenyan farmers have access to the latest knowledge, training, practices and data, and mechanization best suited for them?

Market Linkages Panel and Challenge

A significant percentage of Kenyan farmers are impacted by poorly structured value chains, which directly impact their yields and quality. A Kenyan farmer growing maize typically harvests around two tons per hectare. When the same farmer is able to access inputs including seeds and fertilizers, mechanization technology, and training on better farm practices, his yields increase to 5-7 tons per hectare.

Additionally, 83% of the Kenyan farm households sell part of their crop produce. Hence, fast and reliable access to markets is critical for their success. The farmers, majority of whom are in rural areas and sell their produce at harvest, experience challenges of asymmetric information in prices and selling opportunities as well as limited market access for their products. While markets may exist, one of the limiting factors is not connecting on time.

This panel will explore the various digital AgTech solutions that exist, that connect Kenyan farmers that sell produce to buyers both in local and international markets. Bridging the gap between buyer and seller is vital for fostering increasing the economic activity and the productivity of the sector, especially given the context where currently farmers struggle to reach the market and lose out on financial benefits. The panel will also include a discussion around digital solutions that focus on supply chain management, such as cold storage technology, that improve the efficiency and shelf-life during the process of transporting produce to the market.
Following the panel, there will be a pitch session from innovators, organizations and businesses that have disrupted the poor access to forward and backward market linkages with a disruptive digital solution using digital and other AG Technologies.

Challenge: Given the limited market linkages for both inputs and production, how can you facilitate market links between buyers and sellers along the value chain?

Agriculture Energy Nexus Panel

Innovations in alternative energy sources especially solar, wind and biomass energy have come as a welcome innovation to help farmers run their household and farm activities. The panel will focus on AgTech innovations on alternative sources of energy that have transformed the farming sector in Kenya to improve the production, processing and storage of produce for smallholder farmers. IOT Enabled farm mechanization will also be a point of discussion.

Farmer Financial Inclusion Panel and Challenge

Financial inclusion has significantly increased in rural Kenya. However, access to agriculture finance for small and medium farmers is still limited in Kenya. Only 10% of the smallholder farmers have access to financial services including credit and insurance. The quantity of credit is also inadequate with only 4% of credit supply flowing to the agriculture sector.

Many factors have hampered access to financial services. These include lack of reliable data to support agricultural lending decisions, lack of collaterals to secure financing, the high transaction cost of accessing and delivering financial services to rural areas, lack of data platforms for assessing risk and delivering financial services. Additionally, the high cost of credit translates into a lack of demand for credit by farmers.

This panel will explore how access to affordable financial services is critical for maximum production by small scale farmers. The panel members will focus the discussion on innovations that have been made in offering various financial products to farmers. They will discuss the strides and gaps in access to credit, savings, insurance and payment services that have been tailored to serve the needs of small-scale farmers.
Following the panel, there will be a pitch session from innovators, organizations, and businesses that have disrupted the existing situation where most farmers have poor access to financial services (outreach) and the cost of accessing credit and insurance services are high.

Challenge: How can your technology help to expand coverage of financial services to farmers, including credit, savings and other financial services?

Data Analytics and Agricultural Intelligence Panel and Challenge

The rapid development of data infrastructure, profusion of digital technologies, and low-cost precision agriculture devices (ICT, Drone Aerial Surveillance, Satellite GIS, Weather Data Analytics, Blockchain, Internet of Things) in Kenya has the potential to deliver farm-level, geospatial, and real-time analytics to inform policies and targeted investments by governments and service providers.

The panel will bring together a panel of experts on the various aspects of data usage in agriculture who will take a deep dive into data sourcing, curation, data analytics and data insights and discuss some of the data sets such as soil and weather data that are used by farmers. New innovations in hardware and software AgTech technologies such as remote sensing, drones, machine learning, blockchain, AI and their impact on the quality and quantity of data available to farmers will be a point of discussion in the session. They will explore how these new data sources can be used to improve the lives of smallholder farmers.
Following the panel, there will be a pitch session from innovators, organizations, and businesses that have disrupted agricultural intelligence, and decision-making by leveraging the emerging agriculture data infrastructure, digital technologies, and precision agriculture tools.

Challenge: How can your solution enable low-cost collection, analysis, and visualization of high-quality, high-frequency and high-resolution agriculture data to produce maps, farmer registries, project dashboards, climate advisories, market forecasts and other relevant analytics?

Data Policy Panel

This panel will explore the importance of having policies in place as digitally enabled AgTech solutions increasingly create a large amount of data about a farmer. Ensuring proper data management to protect farmers is essential and the panel will explore the current policies in place in Kenya that address these issues. It will also explore the policy gaps that exists and the current risks that that is exposing farmers to. This will help policy makers understand the important role that they play in shaping the ecosystem and protecting their citizens.

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