Elita Chikwati Senior Agriculture Reporter
Zimbabwe has launched the National AgriTech Strategy (2021-2025) which is aimed at digitalising the farming ecosystem and improve evidence based decision making for governments and farmers in Africa.
The Agritech Strategy which will be used by African countries to integrate ICTs into agriculture will also help smallholder farmers connect to mainstream markets and industries and improve their livelihoods.
The strategy is an African initiative and vision of transforming Africa from its current position and operation into a Smart Africa by embracing Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) in all sectors of the economy in line with the transform Africa agenda.
AgriTech involves designing, developing and applying innovative ways to use information and communication technologies (ICTs) with a primary focus on agriculture.
The aim is to boost agricultural and rural development by improving access to valuable information that can help agricultural stakeholders to make the best possible decisions and use the resources available most productively and sustainably.
ICTs that can be harnessed for AgriTech may include devices, networks, services and applications.
These can range from cutting edge Internet-based technologies and sensing tools to other technologies that have been around for much longer, such as radio, fixed telephones, televisions, mobile phones and satellites.
Zimbabwe is spearheading AgriTech flagship in Africa and is going to be the centre of reference for AgriTech innovations in Africa.
In a speech read on his behalf, by Deputy Minister Vangelis Haritatos, Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Minister Dr Anxious Masuka said Zimbabwe developed the National Agritech Strategy to leverage Agritech innovations to improve efficiency, increase effectiveness and to reduce costs and enhance competitiveness of agriculture.
“The strategy was developed under the Smart Africa e-Agriculture and AgriTech initiative championed by Zimbabwe,” he said.
Minister Masuka said the strategy will be implemented through the Integrated Agriculture Information Management Systems.
“AIMS is a ministry and sector wide innovative information communication management integrating the crop assessment systems for are, yield and risk, livestock management resources and water resources management systems,” he said.
Minister of ICT, Postal and Courier Services, Jenfan Muswere said the launch of the strategy was in line with President’s national vision and the NDS1.
“The amount of food imports or exports determines sovereignty of a country. We should use ICTs to increase agriculture production and productivity and we should always be conscious of efficient land use and management so we can have enough food.
“We are delighted that the blueprint we have produced will be replicated in Africa. It is important to optimally utilise the potential of ICT in agriculture,” he said.
Smart Africa director-general, Mr Lacine Kone said Africa did not have any policy on the use of ICT in agriculture.
“This blueprint, under the leadership of Zimbabwe, was adopted by all member states of the Smart Africa Alliance and officially launched during the last Smart Africa Board meeting on November 10, 2021.
“The blueprint aims at improving the lives of the smallholder farmers within rural and peri-urban communities through better utilisation Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) in the agricultural value chain. “