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FEATURE-Africa's farmers click with digital tools to boost crops

Reference: Reuters

* Smallholder farmers produce one-third of the world’s food

* Global food production needs to grow by nearly 60% by 2050

* Over 400 agri-tech solutions in sub-Saharan Africa

NAIROBI, Oct 14 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Until a year ago, it would take Pamela Auma a whole month to prepare the land on her farm in western Kenya for planting ahead of the rainy season.

With hoe in hand, the mother-of-seven spent her days digging up the one-acre (0.4-hectare) plot - roughly the size of a football field - and praying she would finish in time to sow her maize and beans crops before the rains arrived.

These days, the same job takes her less than two hours, with the help of a tractor she hired through Hello Tractor, a Kenya-based smartphone app that connects small-scale farmers with nearby tractor owners.

“The tractor is much better than doing it by hand. It gives a quality job and works very fast,” said Auma, 52, by phone from her farm near the city of Kisumu.

“Before it was hard to find a tractor to hire and it was very costly. Now, the booking agent can quickly find a tractor owner near me by using his phone.”

Across Africa, a growing number of smallholder farmers are tapping into digital technologies to access information, services and products to improve efficiency, boost crop yields and increase incomes.

From Nigeria to Ghana to Kenya, a slew of innovations in agricultural technology - or agri-tech - have emerged over the last decade to serve small farmers, who have long been neglected yet are crucial to the continent’s food security... Read More