The digitization of agriculture becomes a reality (picture @CTAflash)

Focus Infos deduced from his investigations that "today, digital is a chance for the agricultural sector" and recognized the as the specialized agricultural informer. It is read by thousands of readers in Togo, Africa and the world every day in French and English.

With a contribution estimated at 40% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and occupying 70% of the active population, Togolese agriculture is, without doubt, today one of the first sectors which is the object of attention especially from the public authorities.

Facing the irreversible process of digitization that affects important parts of the economy, the agricultural sector is called, albeit at a pace not yet strong enough, to operate its own molt. And solutions to count certainly on the fingertips, accompany the digital transformation of the sector.

Subsidized fertilizer for vulnerable farmers via Agri-PME

Fruit of a team between the Ministry of Posts, the Digital Economy and the one in charge of agriculture, Agri-PME is called the electronic purse of the farmer.

Through this tool that puts mobile telephony at the service of the promotion of the agricultural sector, the government’s specific objectives are: make the payment of subsidies safer, simpler and more transparent; ensure the traceability and the desirability of the payment to the needy farmers to know in real time the state of the market as well as the availability of fertilizer stocks in the country; strengthen the involvement of the private sector and promote job creation; collect a large amount of information on the sector and its specificities (such as age, sex, location, cultivable area or selected seeds, etc.).

In the year of its launch (2016), the government granted vulnerable farmers a subsidy of between 1.5 and 2 billion CFA for the acquisition of fertilizer via the electronic purse (SME). The idea made it possible to dispense with intermediaries and reduce transaction costs.

Concretely, explained Cina Lawson, Minister of Posts and Digital Economy at an international meeting, "each farmer vulnerable beneficiary was identified and has an SME to collect its subsidy and proceed with the purchase of agricultural inputs. This project, which is a first in Africa French-speaking countries, has also helped to set up a real agricultural information system by identifying local farmers and data collection in the sector (geolocation of plantations, cultivable areas, specific crops, quantity of production, etc.).

Referring to the statistics, in February 2019, more than 250,000 vulnerable farmers received state subsidies through the Agri-PME e-wallet. At the same time, the volume of subsidized fertilizer went from 25,000 tons to nearly 30,000 tons.

"I was growing corn without using fertilizers and the harvests were not quite abundant or up to our expectations, so we decided to use fertilizer, but it was too expensive for us. 13,000CFA for a bag of 50 kg of fertilizer, but we did not have enough money to get it, now the price has been subsidized and reduced to 9,000 CFA and I have subscribed to it. From quarter-hectare, I now cultivate one hectare of maize. I had the subsidy thanks to my Electronic Wallet (PME), which allows me from now on to take better care of my family," Koffi Amegassi, farmer in Kpalime.

Beyond this, the objective is to set up an Agricultural Information System (AIS) in order to fully exploit the data collected and to put a complete ecosystem to support the agricultural sector throughout the value chain.

And, ultimately, to reach the goal of identifying 4,000,000 vulnerable farmers and Agri-SME users by 2030.

E-agribusiness, the link between the farmer and the consumer

While Agri-Pme facilitates agricultural production through the subsidy of fertilizers, an electronic platform set up by Dona Etchri, one of the rising figures of Togolese entrepreneurship, makes it possible to directly connect the farmer and the consumer with a view to product marketing.

The farmer has access to a larger market (CTA)

With this platform, it is almost the entire "agricultural value chain", from production to marketing that is being digitized.

In practice, any farmer can subscribe to the service offered by the E-agribusiness platform and pay for his publications via the Money mobile (TMoney for the Togocel network). The buyer who subscribes to the service will receive notifications.

When the producer publishes his offers (quantity, price, etc.) using one of the available channels, they are moderated, then accepted or rejected. Accepted publications are notified to subscribers by (SMS, mail) and distributed via the E-Agribusiness website, social networks, TV, radio, LED panels).

The platform also facilitates searches (locality, availability and price of products, mapping availability by product, etc.).

With E-agribusiness, the farmer has access to a larger market; he reduces his crop losses, he sells at the right price, increases his income and improves his living conditions.

For the buyer, E-agribusiness allows for better targeting (geographic areas, available stock, prices, reliable interlocutors) and the facilitation of purchases.

Beyond linking the buyer and the producer, it is said that the platform helps to implement agricultural policies, reduce poverty and contributes to financial inclusion.

Agridigitale: the specialized agricultural informer

Although it is not exclusively dedicated to agricultural information since it also disseminates information related to energy and more generally to sustainable development, Agridigitale is an online media that provides 75% minimum dedicated to the promotion of agriculture, livestock and fisheries in Togo and Africa.

Focus Infos

According to Anani Etsri, its editor, the digital option is justified by the fact that today, most of young people have a smartphone and that the digitization of agriculture, whether we want it or not, will end up impose. "It is in this perspective to reach the majority of youth that we have chosen to position ourselves as an online newspaper," he says.

For the start-up of free agricultural information, which boasts more than half a million visitors and about a million views on its pages, digital technology offers to the agricultural sector many advantages today. Thanks to digital (drone, big data, artificial intelligence), we can bring to the ground, just what it needs.

"Everywhere on the continent, as in Togo, young people have developed applications that make it possible to reduce the drudgery of farm work considerably. From the digital world, people have the opportunity to be in their field or at home and sell their production without going to the market.

In short, digital offers plenty of opportunities for the sector. Every day, Agridigitale goes hunting for these initiatives which he makes available to his readers.

Agridigitale brings information to its different users for whom it seems to serve as a decision-making tool.

In fact, we learn, it conducts investigations to provide producers with information related to the various mechanisms put in place by the government to facilitate the work of the land. The information disseminated also reports exploits that some farmers realize and to raise a corner of sail on their constraints and difficulties. 

The publications sometimes lead some decision-makers to contact agridigitale team to get in touch with the person concerned (producers or promoter / startup of an agricultural project).

Finally, the agridigitale startup highlights the opportunities that the agricultural sector has over the various sectors or speculations. In this case, it is through scientific research and success stories of the peasants.

"The next agricultural revolution will be digital: digital is at the heart of everything: we are talking about agricultural data, blockchain, artificial intelligence, big data, etc."

Faced with rampant demography, old practices seem anachronistic. We are talking more about precision agriculture. The explosion of start-ups with the innovative solutions that are proposed make it possible to believe that. Today, various platforms are developed and are as innovative as each other.

These are the warning signs of entry into this great agricultural revolution. The digitization of the agricultural sector is all the more important now that over the 2018-2022 period, Togo should, in line with Axis 2 of its development plan, start agro-processing. Productions that will have to find outlets, especially via digital tools.

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