Space Technology, Climate Change and Food Systems in Africa

The importance of sustainable agricultural practices vis-a-vis the issue of climate change resilience, soil degradation, deforestation and sustainable use of natural resources such as soil and water is paramount in agricultural development interventions. Agriculture remains an important sector in Africa, with close to 30-percent of the population employed in the sector in 2019; this is a significant drop in numbers over the past two decades.  A disproportionate share of the Africa's poor can still be found in the rural and agricultural sector, with majority of the poorest households directly linked to agriculture.  Additionally, over 85-percent of those engaged in agriculture are farmers managing less than two hectares of land, smallholders, with primarily family labor, and they remain unable to tap into the opportunities offered by national economic growth, thereby contributing to the persistence of low incomes in the agricultural sector. This is due to such factors as inadequate knowledge and implementation of appropriate agricultural practices and inadequate access to financial services to enhance their on-farm investments. Meanwhile, data suggests that the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in many people who have lost their means of employment in urban areas returning to rural areas and, in many cases, shifting to agriculture for employment and a source of income. 

Agriculture remains one of the riskiest sectors of economic activity. Agricultural constraints and challenges relating to production, access to finance, and risk mitigation can profoundly impact on poverty by undermining possibilities for rural entrepreneurs, including women and men farmers, aggregators, lenders and other value chain actors, to accumulate assets, invest in and develop their businesses. As such, overcoming these agricultural constraints and challenges by women and men farmers and other value chain actors is critical to sustainable development. 

Access to satellite technology presents huge potential to help smallholder farmers across Africa adapt and adjust their farming practices to get better yields, whiles improving the cropping environments. Large repository of historical and  realtime data availability could boost digital adoption and commodity market intelligence. This could drive systemic change on food innovation in Africa. Technology companies based in Africa offering value-add services for millions of crop, livestock and aquaculture farmers offer the opportunity for scaling up and sustainability of digitalisation of small scale farm operations.  

On-demand access to localised bundle of climate information services through advanced remote sensing modeling, if accepted and adopted by millions of smallholder farmers in Africa, could help solve the decreasing seasonal crop yield due to changing world and the changing climate.  This may lead to improvement in agricultural productivity, upgrade of agricultural zoning and enriching responsiveness to climate variability.


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