Food productivity remains remarkably low to feed the growing African population. The vast dichotomy between demand and supply of food is not a good sign for a continent looking at feeding its increasing population and achieving the policy blueprint of African and global leaders on achieving zero hunger and reining poverty.
As institutions with primary responsibilities to devise innovations and technologies to boost production, CORAF and AKADEMIYA2063 are partnering together to leverage data and crop science to improve productivity, open markets, and contribute to enhancing food and nutrition security in Africa.
At a recent online learning hosted by both institutions, panelists acknowledged the criticality of working together by bringing together data and crop science to improve the situation.
The event brought together the leading farmer group in West Africa — the Network of Peasant Organizations and Agriculture Producers in West Africa (ROPPA), the key regional economic communities, donors, and other scientific partners. The farmer organization stressed the need for science and data to be tailored towards the family farmers who constitute the majority in the region.
“Farmers in Togo, for example, are using mobile phones to access credit. In Ghana, they use it to share climate information and use drones to improve agricultural productivity in Burkina Faso. Technologies and innovations are critical for our planning and require greater investments to unlock the potential of youths and family farmers,” Mr. Ousseini Ouedraogo, Executive Secretary of ROPPA.
CORAF’s primary business is coordinating national agricultural systems of 23 West and Central African countries to devise and disseminate proven technologies to aid farmers in improving their harvests and engaging in agribusiness activities.
CORAF has developed many online tools to enable the dissemination of technologies. This includes the Market for Innovations and Technologies (MITA), which harbors more than 250 technologies devised during one of the last decade’s largest research and development projects – the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Program. Among the CORAF suite of Informatics are the FeSeRWAM, the Seed Forecasting Tool, the Agripreneur TV, and an online M&E platform.
“These platforms feed on data. Therefore, collecting and storing relevant data in these platforms is very helpful for decision-making,” argued Dr. Niéyidouba Lamien, the interim Director of Research and Innovation at CORAF.
It isn’t long ago that AKADEMIYA2063 was established as one of the newest players advancing relevant data to improve Africa’s food systems.
“Emerging technologies present a huge opportunity to significantly solve the data challenge faced by African countries and farmers,” said Dr. Racine Ly, Director for Data Management, Digital Products, and Technology at AKADEMIYA2063.
The AKADEMIYA2063 senior official highlighted how remote sensing data could help to reduce the data gap as it can provide access to massive, specific, and detailed data with just one image acquisition, while machine learning techniques allow for a better understanding of how changes on the ground relate to one another and how they evolve.
Dr. Ly shared the work of AKADEMIYA2063 in collecting data on vegetation index, land surface temperature, rainfall, and evapotranspiration from a specific combination of remote sensing layers and applying it to machine learning techniques to predict agricultural production levels in West and Central Africa.
AKADEMIYA recently launched a new tool titled the Africa Agriculture Watch (AAgWa). This is primarily an interactive web-based platform that combines remote sensing data and machine learning to guide decision-making in African agricultural production systems.
Pledging to Work Together with “Newer Innovations,”
Harnessing this vast potential to work in favor of farmers could be a daunting challenge. But in closing the online learning event, all institutions present committed to working together while seizing on new technologies to transform the agriculture economy.
“We cannot win the competition of tomorrow with yesterday’s technologies,” said Dr. Ousmane Badiane, Executive Chairperson for AKADEMIYA2063.
The event was also attended by the United States Agency for International Development and the senior management of CORAF through its Executive Director, Dr. Abdou Tenkouano.