Youth, Technology And Startups Are Transforming Agriculture In Africa

A recent report published by the Africa Progress Panel affirms that the agricultural sector has the greatest potential to uplift the African economy and to address global food shortages, and other research has made similar claims. Mobile technology can help turn that potential into a reality.

Africa Progress Panel 2014 Report

In fact, dynamic changes are taking place on the African continent and mobile technology is the main driver of many of these changes. Where NGOs, international organizations, and donor governments have for decades tried and failed to use technical assistance, loans, and aid to “end world hunger”, local initiatives are instead beginning to step in, and they are having great success.

Young African entrepreneurs, startups, hubs and business incubators from across the continent are the protagonists of a revolutionary movement capable of becoming the new model of sustainable development. Many of the solutions proposed by this growing network use technology to achieve their goals. Such solutions are much more capable of addressing local concerns than the decades-old initiatives proposed by international bodies. And to benefit from them, all a person needs is a cell phone and internet access.

Web-based platforms that allow local farmers to create digital networks, text messages that provide information on market prices of agricultural goods, and mobile phones that help farmers save money and access financing outside of the banking system: these are just a few of the features that startups and African youth organizations have implemented using their new mobile communication networks.

These mobile technologies are already beginning to improve the lives of rural farmers in their respective countries and grow the agribusiness sector globally.

The specific acronym used to refer to this sector is ICT4Ag (Information and Communication Technologies for Agriculture), a subset of ICT4D, where the D stands for Development. This sector includes the variety of forms in which technology can be used to address societal problems, from e-readers in education to transparency-tracking applications in politics.

Agritools is a journalistic research project and web platform dedicated to collecting and dispersing stories of youth engaged in ICT4Ag and to facilitating the growth of networks of people engaged in such work.

The website will detail five months of travel through Holland, Italy, Senegal, Uganda, and Ghana, exploring the local initiatives that are using mobile and digital technology to transform and reinvigorate the agricultural, fishing, and animal husbandry sectors.

On the Agritools open multimedia platform, users can select the content they are interested in learning more about by navigating through a variety of different categories and content. By engaging with this content, users can better understand the possibilities and limits of this revolutionary sector.

The platform includes an interactive map that will share stories and testimonies collected in the field by two Italian journalists with the aid of several African experts and researchers, and sorted by research topic, theme, organization, and other categories.

Agritools also includes a crowdsourcing platform to collect stories directly from the protagonists of the sector themselves. Startups, organizations, and young local entrepreneurs carrying out initiatives in the agriculture and ICT fields can share their experiences directly on the site, providing inspiration and encouragement to other young people in the network. These stories will be displayed side by side with those collected by the researchers.

Agritools Map

Agritools offers a window into the African continent, designed to make the kinds of information often confined to universities and private researchers now accessible and available to all.

It offers a digital meeting place that seeks to understand and celebrate the “other Africa” – the one that exists but is often invisible, the Africa of innovation and growth, the Africa that belongs to a generation of young leaders who may not always make headlines but are nevertheless dramatically transforming the future of the continent.

Become Part Of It

Are you a startup, a group of young people, a farmer or an organization that leads an ICT project in the primary sector (agriculture, fisheries or livestock)?

Write your story and send us your experience. You will be published on the Agritools map, with the possibility to be part of an innovative network and give visibility to your project.

The next Agritools step will be the creation of local virtual hubs of young people interested in the topic, who will be able to explore the sector and sensitize other youngsters to work in agriculture.

We are open to welcome people from all over Africa, so if you are interested to create a local group and replicate Agritools in your country, or you just want to have more general information, follow us on Facebook.

Agritools is a project funded by the Journalist Grant, with the financial support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation through the European Journalism Centre.

Cover Image: Daral Technologie, solutions numériques pour les problèmes du bétails |