Africa is fortunate enough to possess a vast area of fertile land suitable for farming. In addition, the different climates across the continent mean it can support the growth of many varied types of crops.
Unfortunately, even with its significant natural resources, the African continent is lagging behind in food production. While the continent should, in theory, be able to support the nutritional needs of its population and have enough left over to trade with other countries, the reality is that there are times when food production fails. When this happens, food supply is scarce leading to shortages and in extreme times even famine.
One of the most pertinent reasons for this is that Africa food production is primarily handled by small-scale farmers. These farmers face significant challenges which impede their ability to meet the needs of the African food market, including financial shortcomings, inadequate technologies, insufficient skilled human resources and a lack of good farming practices.
As Africa countries create financial incentives for farmers to reduce their monetary pressure to spur on greater food production, it is becoming increasingly clear that farmers must have access to information that can help them better manage their farms.
This sentiment is reiterated by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). FAO states: “Research shows that both formal education and non-formal training have a substantial effect on agricultural productivity. A study in Nigeria in 1992 found that an increase in the average education of farmers by one year increased the value added to agricultural production by 24 percent. In Burkina Faso, a 1993 study found that crop yields were 25 to 30 percent higher for farmers who participated in training programmes than those who did not participate.”
While training programmes are a traditional method of learning, in the African context, farmers are more likely to learn from their peers. This is because the actualities in different farming areas vary wildly and what works in one place may not necessarily work in another. As a result, farmers are more likely to emulate what they see their immediate neighbors doing.
FAO adds: “In rural areas of Africa, the challenge is not only to increase the quantity and accessibility of communication technologies but also to improve the relevance of the information to local development. The communication technologies and know-how exist; the challenge is to use them effectively for sustainable agricultural and rural development, and especially for improved food security.”
The key to improving Africa’s farming potential and growing the yields is creating a system through which farmers can easily share information.
Botswana-based blockchain-based startup Plaas is addressing this by developing a platform where farmers can record all information relevant to their farming practices. They are able to do access this network through a mobile and a web-based application. As farmers witness how the yields of their peers perform in accordance with their farming practices, they are able to choose the best practices and apply these for themselves.
The Plaas platform provides a mechanism through which farmers can access the hive mind and thus transform their farming yields through the actionable application of the tried and tested knowledge that they and their peers possess. Interested investors can take part in PLAAS token pre-sale which is taking place in December 2018.