Opinion Piece

11 January 2020

Phumza Dyani, Chief Sales & Marketing Officer at Broadband Infraco SOC Limited writes that Broadband’s role in sustainable agriculture

Nearly a billion people affected by hunger and malnutrition ought to have access to nutritious food as a basic human right. A majority of the 795 million undernourished population live in developing countries and rural areas.

The United Nations SDG2 – Food Security and nutrition and sustainable Agriculture reflects that as the world population keeps growing, much more effort and innovation will be urgently needed to sustainably increase agricultural production, improve the global supply chain, decrease food losses and waste.

Adding to the burden of wide-spread hunger are challenges of climate change, an increase in the urbanization of the global population as well as changing demand for food. Encouraging is that many in the international community believe it is possible to eradicate hunger within the next generation. And those are people increasingly working together to achieve such a goal.

South Africa also makes its contribution to addressing the challenge of hunger. For example, the Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) is committed to advancing food security and transforming the sector through innovative, inclusive and sustainable policies. The department’s strategic goals include enhancing production, employment and economic growth in the agricultural sector, ensuring the increase of production and productivity. There is also a matter of ensuring support for market access and processing of agricultural, forestry and fisheries products. Crucial is the creation of an enabling environment for food security, sector transformation, coordination of government food security initiatives, planning, implementation and monitoring of comprehensive support.

All these and several others are good objectives to drive. However, numerous challenges are real in the Agriculture sector and are echoed in the Department’s Strategic Plan of 2015/2016 and 2019/2020. Included is the impact of climate change, high input costs, land conversation and traction on re-distribution.

There are also issues of the decrease in commercial farms in Primary Agriculture, and the success of smallholder farming due to challenges in accessing funding, knowledge, and markets. Thus, broadband has a critical role to play in the accelerated multiplier effect and the delivery of DAFF’s strategic goals of which food security is central. Technology is ready to play a vital role in enabling and extending an ecosystem of all the value chain players within the Agriculture sector.

Assistance is available, through technology and or broadband, to create and co-ordinate the Agricultural value chain linkages. The government can be supported, through a platform that can enable the registry and interaction of all participants in the Agricultural Value Chain. The functionality of this platform can be an enablement of subsistence farmer development, and providing access to innovation. Additionally, the platform would drive ease of access to demand, supply, and funding. The internet allows for ease of data collection, can up direct-to-consumer sales, increase efficiency; provide access to news, trends, markets, and save time and costs.

The role of technology in food security is also highlighted in a 2017 United Nations Conference on Trade and Development report titled The Role of Science, Technology, and Innovation In Ensuring Food Security by 2030.  It says: “Climate-smart solutions anchored in science, technology and innovation (STI) – including the use of precision agriculture and early warning systems- can mitigate food instability.”

Increased use of broadband and technology can add to major strides made by DAFF in the development of the West Rand, Springbokspan, Witzenberg, Ncora, and Enkangala AgriParks. These are aimed at stimulating the economic activity of subsistence farmers. 

Broadband, technology and the internet ought to feature prominently in the South African National Development Plan (NDP). Among others, the NDP points to the potential of agriculture in creating close to 1 million new jobs by 2030. The NDP identifies the agriculture value chain as one of the job drivers for growth. On the other hand, the New Growth Path (NGP) is a national policy broadly aimed at unblocking private investment to address systematic blockages to employment-creating growth. The blockages include the regulatory framework, infrastructure, and skills. Most of which may be addressed through access to and use of broadband, the internet, and technology.

Ensuring a viable ecosystem and the co-ordination of resources is necessary, from all interested and affected parties to guarantee the eradication of hunger and food security threats. Generally, the constraint to Broadband rollout is the cost of the infrastructure, notwithstanding the benefits that can be gained from the investment. We need to explore alternative commercial models that can help achieve this objective and with a long – term objective in mind. Join us, as we bring together various stakeholders to explore commercial and collaboration models that can best serve this Industry.

Part of the speakers will include:

Regulator – talking on the low frequency spectrum that can be utilized for optimal propagation efficiency

OEMs – Agriculture solution providers and discussing the various Industry solutions and White Papers

Connectivity Providers

Dept. of Agriculture

Funders of Agriculture

Producers

Offtakers

Land Owners: The War Veterans, H4SG (a woman led organization in Agriculture)

How do we move forward with effective and collaborative efforts that will create an impact for the Sector?

Total page visits: 442 Page visits today: 1 Total site visits: 214867
error: Content is protected