Digitalizing agriculture in Africa: promises and risks of an emerging trend
by Fabio Gatti and Oane Visser
The potential of the digitalization of agriculture in Africa to contribute to food security, poverty reduction and environmental sustainability agendas is being increasingly recognized, as shown by growing investment in digital technologies that are supposed to help small-scale farmers to ‘upgrade’ the way they farm. However, these technologies should not be considered panaceas from the get-go and require critical scrutiny to ensure that they will benefit those who need it the most. There is a strong need for independent and in-depth social science research able to go beyond the surface of international donors and policy makers’ discourses and assess the effectiveness ‘on the ground’ of such new and greatly emphasized developing trend.
About the authors:
Fabio Gatti is a graduate from the Agrarian, Food and Environmental Studies (AFES) major at the International Institute for Social Studies (ISS). Together with dr. Oane Visser, he is currently investigating the impact of digital innovations on smallholder agriculture in Africa.
Oane Visser (associate professor, Political Ecology research group, ISS) leads an international Toyota Foundation-funded research project on the socio-economic effects of – and responses to – big data and digitalization in agriculture.