The use of messaging Technology in the advancement of African Agriculture
The agriculture sector has dramatically transformed over the past 50 years. Advances in machinery have expanded the scale, speed, and productivity of farm equipment, leading to more efficient cultivation of more land. Now, agriculture is in the early days of yet another revolution, at the heart of which lies data and connectivity. Artificial intelligence, analytics, and other emerging technologies could further increase yields and build sustainability.
As technology is influencing our lives now more than ever, we must be aware and ensure that smallholder farmers in Africa are not left behind in this accelerating digital revolution that is reshaping societies around the world.
How is Text Messaging Technology Shaping Farming in Africa?
Some might wonder, what do text messaging and agriculture have to do with each other? A whole lot actually — the power texting holds to advance farming is now being recognized by software developers and scientists who are increasingly building and leveraging messaging technology that can not only improve productivity but business on both local and larger farms.
The SMS function, in particular, offered by even the most basic handset can be used to provide data to farmers that they would previously not have had access to. Instant updates on wholesale crop prices and weather, for instance, can improve agricultural productivity and negotiating positions.
The benefits go beyond increased yields: given that digital technology holds particular appeal for younger workers, integrating messaging into agriculture through entry points like precision farming, equipment leasing, service provision, and e-commerce present a direct, instant, and convenient link between farmers and the market. By presenting a direct, instant, and convenient link between farmers and the market, text messaging allows seamless communication for farmers to know exactly the best time to harvest and sell their goods, and buyers, to know where or when to find the goods they wish to buy.
For example, Pricepally — a sharing e-commerce platform with 5000+ downloads, provides access to the best quality farm-fresh food items that are up to 35% cheaper than local markets for families and businesses living in African cities with the utmost efficiency, connecting thousands of consumers to Farmers through their phones, using Termii’s messaging and notification APIs.
Another example is Afex Nigeria, a platform transforming agriculture through intelligence and insight and building an inclusive digitized agriculture economy. Changing the story, one farmer at a time by linking smallholder farmers, producers, processors, investors, and consumers — creating a more inclusive, scalable, and efficient potential for increased productivity and wealth creation.
Their data shows they have empowered 100,000+ smallholder farmers in rural areas in Nigeria.
Here is evidence that such platforms— delivered at scale and at low cost — can change farmers’ practices for the better.
More so, it should go without saying that farmers need timely, accurate information as much as any small enterprise. Today, most farmers in Africa’s remotest places have mobile phones, and thus are equipped to receive targeted agricultural advice through simple text or voice messages, even without access to the Internet. In a world where grocery store chains dominate and communication with small, local vendors and farmers can be infrequent, texting may just be the solution for local farmers to improve their business revolutionize how these communities communicate, secure, and improve their livelihoods.
With all these benefits, agriculture remains less digitized compared with many other industries globally.
Why is this?
Without a solid connectivity infrastructure, it would be impossible to efficiently leverage this technology. If connectivity is implemented successfully in agriculture, the industry could “tack on $500 billion in additional value to the global gross domestic product by 2030,” according to weforum’s research.
Agriculture most definitely has improved in the past. However, these were mostly mechanical. That is, in the form of more energy-saving machinery, and more productive seed and fertilizers. Now, for this sector to match the technological advancement that is upon us, much more sophisticated, digital tools are needed to deliver the next productivity milestone.
This is why Termii’s SMS technology is sure to change the face of agriculture in Africa, opening doors to more and more developments in the coming years, with our all-inclusive communication platform for businesses across Africa, to power connectivity and verify customers seamlessly across channels like SMS, voice, and WhatsApp. We also raised the bar with our Sandbox, a first-of-its-kind messaging test environment tool in Africa, for both technical and non-technical teams that helps tests the suite of Termii’s products before, during, and after their integration.
Leveraging our technology will transform the agricultural sector through the application of innovative messaging tools, opening a vast untapped potential for farmers, entrepreneurs, and investors to improve the efficiency of food production and consumption in Africa.
Finally, digital technology is not a cure-all. While farmers increasingly are equipped with mobile phones, they also need counseling that is tailored to their needs, as well as access to fertilizers, and markets to sell their products.