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Digital Tech in African Agriculture

Title: Digital Tech in African Agriculture

The digital revolution in global agriculture has begun and this includes digital tech in African agriculture. We now see the use of a variety of digital tools on the continent, such as drones, precision farming machinery, digital decision-making support tools, digital labor management tools or online food and agricultural input marketplaces. Even though the digital revolution is still at an early stage in many countries in the Global South, it is gathering pace as many actors in the international development community herald it as a solution to achieving food security, and environmentally sustainable and climate-resilient agriculture through climate-smart agriculture. Digitalisation is often presented as a silver bullet to solve the tension between productivity, profitability, and sustainability in food production. Donor agencies are following a ‘digitalisation for development’ approach, while the World Bank and the FAO promote digitalisation as a key tool for transforming small-holder agriculture in the Global South. 

Research Activities:

This research project investigates how digitalisation is transforming food systems in the Global South, starting from the assumption that we are currently witnessing the emergence of new digital socio-technical systems that restructure how food is produced, distributed, and consumed.

The first phase consists of a three-month scoping study consisting of three components. 

  • Three country studies: We are conducting a review of the state of agricultural digitalisation in three African countries – South Africa, Zambia, and Kenya – which have significant horticultural sectors linked to global export markets. 
  • African regional: We are reviewing the continental initiatives for African agricultural development as advanced by intergovernmental and regional institutions, and the policy frameworks that promote commercialisation and technology uptake.
  • Germany: We are undertaking research in Germany, which is where much of the tech development is underway and companies are headquartered.

Victoria Luxen, University of Cologne

Research Team:
Prof. Peter Dannenberg, University of Cologne
Prof. Ruth Hall, PLAAS
Cyriaque Zakizimana, PLAAS
Dr. Nkumbu Nalwimba, PLAAS
Dr. Richard Kiaka, School for Field Studies, Kenya
Dr. Louisa Prause, Humboldt University Berlin
Dr. Tatiana Lopez-Ayala, University Würzburg


Funding: DFG within CRC 228 (Initial 2023)