How Digitalization Connects Rural Farms In Africa

Tanja Reith

One benefit of digitalization is that it offers people more information about where food comes from and how it is processed. While this information is useful for individuals to make informed food choices, it also has benefits for improving agribusiness in rural areas and creating methods to better feed the world. In particular, Internet of Things (IoT) technology can be used to improve agribusiness in rural Africa and around the world.

Digitalization has enabled every part of the food supply chain to be connected. This includes rural farmers, such as smallholders in remote parts of Africa. With the IoT, enterprises are able to gain information from the farms, no matter where they are located. This method provides benefits to the local community, shares the food’s supply chain to the end consumer, and promotes sustainability.

Improved technology has helped remote African smallholder farmers connect to the global food supply chain. For example, rural farmers in developing countries (who wouldn’t otherwise have the means) can now access information on prices, agricultural methods, weather updates, and other data. On the other end of the supply chain, companies can trace their products origins and paths. This helps them improve processes, ensure quality, and pass information on to end customers.

An SAP white paper, Value Creation in the Digital Agribusiness Network, shows how rural farming in Africa greatly affects the world. On the continent, sub-Saharan Africa’s agriculture industry employs 65% of Africa’s labor force. Globally, Africa’s agriculture affects the world. For example, 80% to 90% of global cocoa production originates in 5 to 6 million smallholder farms.

IoT has created the means to connect rural farmers to a broader value chain. In an article for Cleanleap, David Kariuki reported that IoT has created major advances that manage the effects of weather on agriculture in Africa. He explains that most of the arable land in sub-Saharan Africa is dependent on rainfall and affected by climate changes. But IoT provides information that can account for weather changes and improve practices. For example, it can use sensors and data sharing to improve knowledge on moisture levels of the soil, water predictions, and other important information that affects crops.

For Analytics Center, Emre Yayici explained that IoT creates more efficient and less expensive farming methods. Technology can help remote farmers cut down on water theft, reduce the need to hire farmhands to monitor crops, and better use small amounts of land. Yayici noted that IoT has made it easier for farmers to track conditions such as humidity levels and soil moisture and to better use water during droughts.

As the world has become more connected, it’s increasingly important to use technology to streamline the ways people work together. Technology and IoT have been creating better processes in agribusiness around the world and helping connect the supply chain. While these advances help businesses run better and improve quality and profits, they also provide changes that could better feed the world’s population. This is increasingly important with difficult growing conditions, changing weather, and an increasing global population.

Learn how to bring new technologies and services together to power digital transformation by downloading The IoT Imperative for Consumer Industries. Explore how to bring Industry 4.0 insights into your business today by reading Industry 4.0: What’s Next?


Tanja Reith

About Tanja Reith

Tanja Reith is a solution manager for the Agribusiness vertical in the Industry Cloud organization at SAP. She has over 15 years of experience in solution management and go-to-market roles for enterprise software, engaging closely with customers and partners across different industries such as agribusiness, consumer products, and financial services. Tanja’s ambition is to drive shared value resulting in business value to our customers while making a social impact and improving people’s lives.