Vodacom has partnered with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) on behalf of the German Government and Manstrat Agricultural Intelligence Solutions to launch a mobile technology solution to support South African smallholder farmers. The aim is for the solution to help the farmers transition into commercial agriculture.

“Digitising the agricultural value chain means that smallholder farmers will benefit from access to information and markets."Vuyani Jarana, Chief Officer for Vodacom Business

“Vodacom believes that ICT provides innovative solutions to address Africa’s societal and economic challenges. Leveraging the successful implementation of Connected Farmer projects in East Africa, we are 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 is critical.” said Vuyani Jarana, Chief Officer for Vodacom Business.

With an estimated combined investment from Vodacom and GIZ of $1,6 million (around R21 million) over three years, the ‘Connected Farmer’ platform will link thousands of smallholder farmers to the agriculture value chain enabling access to information, services and markets.

Christiane Kalle, GIZ Country Director South Africa and Lesotho, said that “German development cooperation views ICT solutions as having huge potential to support smallholder farmers in the commercial agriculture segment through linking farmers and agribusinesses to potential buyers and services. At the same time, we find that producing agricultural goods sustainably and at high quality, is key to the farmers’ success. With this initiative, we address both of these challenges and expect significant employment effects.”

The Connected Farmer platform is aimed at connecting enterprises, small and commercial agribusinesses, NGOs and farmer associations. Vodacom’s partnership with GIZ will provide commercial and operational support to link thousands of farmers to this platform, enhancing the sustainability and longevity of the initial deployment of the service in the South African agriculture sector. The launch of this platform further complements the current Internet of Things platforms which Vodacom has launched into the various markets and segments.

A farmer can use any mobile device on any network to access the Connected Farmer’s platform and through SMS receive valuable information including weather forecasts and market prices. Farmers with smartphones can access the same platform with increased capability to access additional content. Through the partnership with Manstrat Agricultural Intelligence Solutions, a local developer of Agricultural Decision Support Systems for the past 25 years, Vodacom will provide farmers and enterprise users with access to a broad and deep reservoir of relevant and expert content.

Cover Image Credit: Vodacom’s Vuyani Jarana and Germany's GIZ’s Christiane Kalle.

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