TEAM 5: Agriculture Innovation Hub for Africa
This is the first progress report of the team no 5 of the Nairobi INSPIRE Hackathon 2019. The team is led by Karel Charvat and Tuula Löytty.
Team building: The team includes about 120 members out of which 20 are actively contributing.
Communication: We have established three communication channels: a Google Drive folder, Skype chat group and a mailing list.
- Webinar for group was organised on 8.4.2019. See the webinar recording below:
- A teleconference that took place 12.4.2019.
We have put efforts on two parallel tasks:
1. We have collected ideas and wishes, what will be important for the African community. The ideas which are so far presented are below. The discussion and ideas collecting continues.
1.1 Sahara desert
1.2 Rural commodity exchange hub RCE
1.3 Main problems
2. We want to prepare a social space for agriculture in Africa in a form of a Digital Innovation Hub. The following three topics are in progress:
2.1 The first technology solution schemas has been drawn
2.2 Visual outlook of the Innovation Hub aka SmartAfriHub.org
2.3 The initial analysis has been published.
1. We have collected ideas and wishes, what will be important for the African community.
1.1 Sahara desert
African peoples can innovate by introducing agriculture in adversity land, others succeeded on this agriculture hard way, Africa will be strong with agriculture innovation even in the desert. (Kantiza Antoine)
1.2 Rural commodity exchange hub (RCE)
This is a market center in rural areas where agricultural produce such as maize, beef, fruits,milk, wheat, bananas, barley and eggs are traded just it happens in Nairobi Security Exchange.
RCE is a reliable interface for buyers and sellers to meet thus eliminating brokers and illegal trader. More importantly, even if the farmers will not trade through the RCE, because if its transparency around the pricing, all the farmers in the country can use the RCE price as the reference price.
The RCE will work as a membership-based system. A members of the exchange will have to buy membership seat, you use that seat to trade either on behave of yourself or clients who you may sign up. The members of the exchange who trade may be either farmers or the buyers such as processors, flour millers, exporters, roasters, etc.
Beside the exchange providing the platform for buyers and sellers to physically or virtually meet, the RCE will work as an umbrella for all farmers’ cooperatives and management experience to the . As an umbrella of cooperatives, RCE will assist and help in bringing in knowledge, technology cooperatives.
The RCE will establish the quality, grade, quantity and payment, and delivery procedures. That’s a very bid value-add proposition to the market- you don’t beg people to pay you or chase after them.
RCX will work as farmers cooperative and in partnership with of the market actors, members of the exchange and government.
1.3 The main problems by Patrice Lekeraho Mirindi
For any big innovation for African Agriculture, we need to go through a overview of problems of the African agriculture and think about innovative ways to tackle those issues. I can summarise the issues into 3 main issues:
- Production and productivity
- Market failure
- High transaction cost
1) production and productivity
To tackle this issue, we really need to restart almost everything, African agriculture need to change. And with the issue of climate change this has to be taken as a priority.
For the production part, we need to understand that african farmer are pretty good and efficient in what they do, to think otherwise can be wrong, a low yield does not mean inefficient. What is needed is an improvement of technology. Moreover, climate is something that cannot be control but can be predicted. African Agriculture and farmers need innovative ways to predict what will be the weather, they need a platform that will inform about when to plant, when to put fertilizer, when to harvest and more. They also need to be trained and inform about climate smart agriculture. At the climate issue, it is also important to think about a geographical distribution of agricultural activities. A map that can show some comparative advantage towards crops and animals.
For the productivity part, of course we need technology. but we need to consider the population-land ratios. At this level some more radical strategies need to be considered. African farmers have very small land, very few have upto 2 ha of land. This reduce their competitiveness. It is hard for 100 farmers sharing 200 ha to compete with one farmer with 50 ha. Many aspects count especially in term of resilience, input cost and market. Here, it requires a collaboration with other sectors. Agriculture himself cannot make it. We need to make other sectors to be attractive, accessible for african people. This will create space in rural areas and lands to develop the agriculture sector. Also, we have to think about an organisational model in which we will make farmers to work in cooperatives and use their land as one.
2) Market failure
The responsibilities are shared, at the farmers’ level, buyers level and institutions. We have to find strategies to fight against the opportunistic behavior of African farmers and buyers. It is important to build trust. This can be done through training with farmers. In order to get a developed agriculture in Africa, we need to be competitive. Our product needs to meet the international standard. Once again today technology, platform for climate, the geographical distribution of agricultural activities, organisation of farmers in cooperative for commercialization purpose are needed. Here we have to understand that much focus on smallholders hinder poverty reduction. They have to be in groups rather than dealing with single farmers, this will permit the action to have more impacts.
It is said that when the product is of good quality it sells himself. But African product have already a bad reputation. It requires to put some efforts in the publicity of african product. Put in place policies that favour the marketing of product. By promoting free trade of agricultural product as we need to promote a geographical distribution of agricultural activities.
Government has to remove taxes to farmers and people in agribusiness. Put in place policies that will protect them from buyers (Knowing that farmers are poor, some buyers take advantage and give them very small money). We need to improve the conservation of products.
3) High transaction cost
The main issue here is information asymmetry. It is important to make a platform that will give correct information about what is happening. We need to know exact information of what farmers are producing in a given village in Africa. The platform need to inform farmers about the need on the market.
There are also many issues of property rights and communities lands. This leads to many political issues; to conflicts between crop producers and animal producers. It could be interesting to think about ways to tackle the issues.
2. We are preparing a social space for agriculture in Africa – a Digital Innovation Hub.
2.1 SmartAfriHub – the first release of components
Currently is implementing Open Stack as basic tools for Innovation Hub. There were also registered domain smartafrihub.org.
2.2 Visual Oulook of SmartAgriHub.org.
Together with implementation of portal components we are working on design. See the first ideas
2.3 The initial analysis has been published
We have prepared a document for collecting ideas for implementation. The idea analysis outlines the goals, the target groups of the innovation hub and the desired functionalities.