Local workers work at the field where the experimental stevia are planted at Egerton University in Nakuru, Kenya, Oct. 13, 2016. (Xinhua/Sun Ruibo)
NAIROBI, June 15 (Xinhua) -- Strategic application of big data are expected to speed up modernization of Africa's agriculture sector and enhance its contribution to the continent's socio-economic transformation.
African ministers for agriculture said at a conference in Kenya's Nairobi on Wednesday that investment in data collection, storage and dissemination infrastructure is key to transform a sector whose contribution to the continent's economies is profound.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta in remarks read on his behalf by the Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich stressed the critical role of big data to revitalize performance of agriculture sector amid challenges linked to climate change and urbanization.
"We must harness data to guide search for solutions to challenges affecting the African agriculture. Availability of quality data will guide agricultural policy reforms to enhance productivity," Kenyatta said.
Dozens of African agricultural ministers, policymakers, experts and industry executives attended the ministerial conference on global open data for agriculture and nutrition (GODAN) that run concurrently with the 4th AGRITEC Africa exhibition.
Kenyatta said the conference came at a time as African countries intensified reforms in the agriculture sector to achieve food security and boost rural incomes.
"Agriculture has potential to lift millions of African people from poverty. Countries in this region require accurate and timely data to revolutionize agriculture," said Kenyatta.
He added that Kenya has set precedence in the continent through adoption of big data to streamline key agricultural value chains.
"Kenya has taken a lead in uptake of data and ICT tools to help farmers access weather and market information," said Kenyatta.
The CEO of Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) Andre Laperriere noted that digital revolution sweeping across the African continent has enhanced access to quality data among policymakers and farmers.
"Technological revolutions ushered by the Internet and smartphones have enabled African farmers access timely information on weather patterns, cost of farm inputs and status of commodities' market," Laperriere said.
Kenya's Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Willy Bett said that big data lies at the heart of Africa's agricultural transformation agenda to achieve the UN 2030 goals on food security and inclusive prosperity.
"Big data will guide policy and funding interventions in the agriculture sector. It will also help policymakers and other end-users like farmers to respond appropriately to challenges like droughts, pests, diseases and falling commodity prices," said Bett.