CIDA Spring 2021 Seminar - Ed Mabaya: Digital Agriculture for Sustainable Farming Digital Solutions for Smallholder Farmers in Africa: Opportunities and Challenges
From Gabriela Cestero
Cornell Institute for Digital Agriculture - Spring 2021 Seminar: Digital Agriculture for Sustainable Farming
Digital Solutions for Smallholder Farmers in Africa: Opportunities and ChallengesEd Mabaya, Research Professor, Global Development and Senior Research Associate, Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management
Agriculture is the mainstay of many sub-Saharan African economies as it provides jobs and livelihoods for nearly two thirds of the continent’s population. And yet agricultural productivity in Africa lags far behind the rest of the world. It is against this background that there is a growing recognition that digital technologies can transform the agricultural sector in Africa to build back better, more efficient, and resilient food systems. With a focus on food value chains, this presentation explores the driving forces and current status of digital agricultural solutions for smallholder farmers in Africa. There is strong evidence of growth and innovation in this subsector fueled increased mobile phone penetration and increased internet access. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has provided a unique opportunity to accelerate the deployment of contact free digital solutions along the food value chain. Despite the numerous opportunities in digital agriculture, there are several challenges that need to be addressed such as farmer registration, scalability, the lack of revenue models to drive sustainability, and the growing digital divide.
Ed Mabaya is a scholar and a development practitioner with more than two decades of experience working on development, agribusiness value chains and food security issues with a regional focus on Sub-Saharan Africa. He is a Research Professor in the Department of Global Development and Senior Research Associate in the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell University. His teaching, research and outreach work focuses on food security and economic development in Africa. Previously he was the Division Manager of Agribusiness Development at the African Development Bank (2018-2020) where he launched a flagship program – Digital Ag - to support investments, policy reform and scaling up of digital solutions serving smallholder farmers in Africa. Mabaya is the former President of African Association of Agricultural Economists (2017-2019) an Archbishop Desmond Tutu Leadership Fellow (2007) and The Aspen Institute’s New Voices Fellow (2016). He earned his MSc (1998) and PhD (2003) degrees in Agricultural Economics at Cornell University and a BSc Honors in Agricultural Economics and Extension (1994) from the University of Zimbabwe.