Digital platforms key to revolutionizing small-holder farming in Africa: experts

Source: Xinhua| 2019-01-29 23:42:05|Editor: yan
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NAIROBI, Jan. 29 (Xinhua) -- Transformation of subsistence farming in sub-Saharan Africa hinges on availability of new technologies to help farmers access credit, weather information and new markets, experts said at a forum in Nairobi on Tuesday.

According to experts, digital platforms hold key to unlock the potential of small-scale farming in Africa whose growth is constrained by climatic shocks, market volatility, under-funding and skills gap.

"Linking small-holder farmers to digital platforms will boost access to finance required purchasing inputs alongside information on weather and markets," said Andrew Karlyn, director of strategic learning at Mercy Corps.

He spoke on the sideline of the annual learning event organized by Mercy Corps to take stock of impact of its AgriFin Accelerate (AFA) program that seeks to address bottlenecks that hamper productivity at small-holder level.

The five-year program that is being implemented in Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia aims to ensure that small-holder farmers have access to affordable financial products and services to enhance their productivity.

About 1.2 million small-scale farmers in the three African countries have benefitted from the 2.5 billion Kenyan shillings (about 25 million U.S. dollars) project.

Myriam Khoury, vice president of innovation at Mercy Corps, said innovative financing options could unlock the untapped potential of African small-holder farmers as the continent embark on charting a future free of hunger, poverty and disease.

"There are huge opportunities for small-holder farmers if they tap into innovative financial products but the public sector must develop policies and regulations to ensure benefits are sustained," said Khoury.

She revealed that AFA program will soon be launched in Ethiopia and Nigeria where it is expected to benefit about one million small-holder farmers.

"We are committed to expanding this model of transforming livelihoods of small-scale farmers through partnership with organizations that have a robust digital ecosystem," said Khoury.