Building the business case for smallholder D4AG solutions

Digitalization for Agriculture (D4AG) solutions and services are growing rapidly in Africa. Before 2012, there were 42 D4AG solutions in operation on the continent. Over the following six years, this figure rose steadily to 112 in 2014, 230 in 2016 and 390 in 2018.

But what these statistics don’t tell you is that only some of these solutions made it beyond the pilot phase. As Dr. Benjamin Kwasi Addom, Team Leader in ICTs for Agriculture at CTA, observed, “not all of them are alive today”.

Without business models, D4AG solutions remain project-led and donor-dependent, which means, more often than not, they collapse once trials are completed. As a result, there are currently very few scaled, functioning and sustainable D4AG solutions in Africa.

The challenge, as Dr. Addom explained, is transitioning from project to business; transitioning beyond donor funding to a profitable and financially sustainable business model.

To help explain why so many D4AG projects struggle to survive, our Managing Partner Ndidi Nwuneli, set out the questions and uncertainties that can bedevil D4AG project expansion. But first, she provided the official CTA definition of D4AG solutions:

“D4AG is the use of digital technologies, innovations, and data to transform business models and practices across the agriculture value chain, including production, postharvest handling, market access, finance and supply chain management.”

Read more: African Green Revolution Forum

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