Agriculture sector ready for digital transformation – Kenya News Agency
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya said that although many Kenyans can now have access to information and communication technologies (ICTs), there is a need to harness the digital platform to promote and improve food security.
He said there were indications that the urban and rural population were accessing ICT facilities, but said progress was uneven in geographic and socio-economic spheres of life.
In many areas, the SC noted that women and young people have less access to smartphones and digital services, and in many cases access to ICTs does not translate into better food security outcomes and nutrition and livelihoods for farming communities.
Speaking during the organization of a national online dialogue as part of an ongoing global process ahead of the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit, Munya noted that like the rest of the world, Kenya’s food systems are in the midst of a digital revolution as the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in weaknesses in current food systems.
COVID 19 has highlighted the need for access to technology and digital connectivity for all and this dialogue has thus brought together partners executing different digital and data innovation initiatives across the country to share their experiences and make recommendations for consideration at the United Nations Food Systems Summit. Explain.
During the meeting, the SC exposed the need for a strategy of coordination and digitization of the agricultural sector and the implementation of a roadmap developed in partnership with Microsoft.
The strategy he mentioned aims to address three key challenges, namely to catalyze the space for research and innovation in agriculture, particularly around the use of big data and advanced analytics (AA).
The other two, he added, allow more reliable access to usable and shareable data and require quality analysis to support evidence-based decisions on performance management, M&E, research and policy. respectively.
Munya further stated that the Agriculture Sector Transformation and Growth Strategy (ASTGS) 2019-2029 that is in place is committed to ensuring that agricultural data is available, usable, timely and interoperable. “The growth strategy targets the importance of having both traditional data such as censuses and surveys in addition to other innovative data sources,” he said.
Microsoft Country Director Kendi Ntwiga said digitization can help transform Kenya’s agricultural sector, improve productivity and help the country make significant strides towards achieving food security.
“Transforming smallholder agriculture to improve efficiency, productivity and ensure quality controls through digitization can certainly support Kenya’s agricultural transformation strategy,” she noted.
Further transformation, said Ntwiga, can transform the use of over four million hectares of cultivated land as well as the livelihoods of over five million rural households.
However, she noted that in order to enable agricultural transformation through digitization, a large amount of data must be collected and properly used.
She added that collecting and using data to inform decision-making can improve the timing of crop cycles, reduce uncertainties for investors, and lower the cost of identifying opportunities to improve efficiency. .
Speaking on the need to strengthen partnerships, Samuel Munguti, CEO of Farmer Pride, noted that strengthened collaborations between the private sector and government have the potential to achieve scale and sustainability for accessibility to digital solutions. for small farmers.
“Our market platform provides smallholder farmers with access to agro-industrial information on delivery or the right inputs and sustainable agro-industrial opportunities to fuel agricultural transformation,” he said.
The Principal Secretary of Agriculture in charge of Crop Development and Digital Transformation Research Prof. Hamadi Iddi Boga stressed the need to integrate ICT and digital capabilities in the agricultural sector to help farmers to optimize their income.
He said the ministry had unveiled digital transformation platforms such as the Kenya Agricultural Market Information System, which provides farmers with information on the prices of various commodities and electronic voucher systems that allow farmers to purchase pre-prepared seed input packages, equipment and consumables from certain Suppliers.
Other platforms developed included the electronic voucher system, electronic extension which uses GIS to map farmland and educate farmers to protect productive farmland and offer data links with other institutions to facilitate digitization of land registers and soil maps.
“There is solid data held in silos by various government and research institutions. More than ever, it is essential to consolidate, digitize and centralize this data for the benefit of farmers and other key players. Having a centralized data center will promote data sharing and provide a single, reliable source of truth, ”said Professor Boga.
Sriram Bharatam from Kuza Biashara said the role of young people is crucial and highlighted the need for private sector social enterprises to build the capacities of young people and help them learn, connect and grow at scale, because it is only through micro-entrepreneurship that a difference can be made.
Jo Ryan, CEO of Tru Trade, noted in his remarks that digital technologies have played a huge role in connecting farmers to markets.
“We are all in the market. We connect buyers to products and farmers to the market through our sustainable supply chains, ”she said.
Today’s national dialogue meeting was themed: Agricultural Data Transformation and Digitization: Considerations in Policy and Implementation Frameworks ”.
In 2021, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will convene a pre-summit on food systems in July, followed by the main summit that will bring together innovation partners from the public, private and social sectors as part of the Decade action to achieve the SDGs by 2030..
It will further commit to making innovation a critical factor in transforming food systems and achieving the 17 SDGs, both before and during the Summit.
By Wangari Ndirangu