Vodacom partnered with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) in investing in a R21.4 million mobile application to link South African smallholder farmers to the mainstream agriculture value chain, the mobile operator said on Friday.
The Connected Farmer platform is a cloud-based web and mobile software solution that aims to link smallholder farmers with markets, information and services.
Vuyani Jarana, chief executive for Vodacom Business, said on Friday that the company wanted to provide innovative solutions to address Africa’s societal and economic problems – this after its parent company Vodafone had successfully implemented the system in east Africa.
“We’re laying the foundation for inclusive growth in the agriculture sector through integrated value chains in agriculture.
“Africa is a net importer of cereal, yet it is endowed with greater proportions of arable land.
“For Africa to be able to feed itself, the application of ICT based solutions like the Connected Farmer are critical,” said Jarana.
He said the company had its sights on filling the vacuum of the availability of data on smallholder farmers and their supply chain.
South Africa has an estimated 200000 smallholder farmers and an estimated 2million subsistence farmers.
This compared with commercial farmers, estimated to be 30000, who are responsible for most of the country’s food production.
In 2012, Vodafone partnered with US Agency for International Development to launch the Connected Farmer Alliance(CFA) to increase productivity and revenue of more than 500000 smallholder farmers in Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique.
The CFA was currently facilitating communications and transactions for 30000 smallholder farmers and five agribusiness clients.
GIZ acts on behalf of the German government and has operations in 130 countries; its co-operation with Vodacom was implemented by the regional programme “Employment for sustainable development in Africa”.