Innovations in agro-food sectors

Technological innovations

Innovations in agro-food sectors - Technological innovations
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Technological innovations in agriculture are usually associated with product or process innovation. There are key technological innovations in agriculture that do not belong to a particular value chain, but do have a significant impact on food and nutrition security. Within this topic, these key innovations are presented. This can range from the use of Information Technology (IT), drones and geodata in agriculture for the improvement of yields to lessons learned on the implementation of agricultural technology.

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Beyond the hype: Mobile phones and the web to improve agricultural value chains
Published by CTA,
This technical brief summarizes the lessons learned from seven ICT4Ag projects, offering key recommendations for future projects. The brief highlights the importance of understanding users' needs by interacting with potential clients before designing an app and then pilot-testing it to fine tune the services provided. »
Innovations improve farming yield and earnings
Published by The East African,
This news item discusses several new, technological innovation by Feed the Future that help farmers in East Africa. From technological innovations, like iProcure Ltd, smallholder farmers are able to get quality inputs for better productivity. »
From agribusiness to subsistence: High-tech tools now available to all
Published by The guardian,
This news item discusses the potential of precision agriculture to increase the yields of smallholder farmers. Precision agriculture is closely associated with technology, like GPS tractors, and its application to large-scale farms in developed countries. But there's a growing body of research now to support the idea that small-scale farmers can benefit from precision agriculture. »
Digitisation: Game changer for rural Africa?
Published by Rural 21,
This issue presents technologies and initiatives with practical relevance, that bear a potential for up-scaling, are locally adapted and can above all benefit small-scale farmers and the young generation. »
Country-driven innovations and agrifood value chains for poverty and hunger reduction
Published by Food Security Portal,
This blog discusses a book chapter by IFPRI Director General Shenggen Fan. He suggests that more innovative, better focused, and more cost-effective measures are needed to more effectively address hunger. These innovations must be driven by developing countries themselves. »
An assessment of mobile phone-based dissemination of weather and market information in the Upper West Region of Ghana
Published by Agriculture & Food Security Journal,
This article assesses the usefulness, constraints, and factors likely to influence farmers’ decisions to patronize mobile phone-based weather and market information. The rapid growth of mobile phones in Ghana has opened up the possibility of delivering timely and useful weather and market information to farmers at costs lower than traditional agricultural extension services. »
Agricultural innovators in Ethiopia: Lessons from the food security and Rural Entrepreneurship Innovation Fund
Published by AgriProFocus, ICCO, KIT, F&S Ethiopia, EKN,
This publication introduces the Food Security and Rural Entrepreneurship (FSRE) Innovation Fund and explains how it contributes to rural innovation in Ethiopia. The fund supports ideas that have the potential to become scalable innovations that improve food security and strengthen rural entrepreneurship. »
Open data benefits for agriculture and nutrition
Published by CTA & GODAN,
This issue of ICT Update portrays how GODAN and other stakeholders are creating a global open data movement in agriculture and nutrition from the perspectives of its users by showcasing some of the best practices and the most common challenges in this field. There is a lot potential, but lack of reliable and contextualised data is currently working against smallholder farmers. »
Satellite-based assessment of yield variation and its determinants in smallholder African systems
Published by PNAS Journal,
This article demonstrates the potential to track smallholder maize yield variation in western Kenya, using a combination of 1-m imagery and intensive field sampling on thousands of fields over 2 years. The emergence of satellite sensors that can routinely observe millions of individual smallholder farms raises possibilities for monitoring and understanding agricultural productivity in many regions of the world. »
The impact of the use of new technologies on farmers’ wheat yield in Ethiopia
Published by IFPRI,
This conference paper examines the impact of the Wheat Initiative technology package promoted by the research and extension systems in Ethiopia on wheat yield. The results suggest that the full-package farmers had around 14% higher yields. Implementation of the Wheat Initiative was successful in terms of making certified seed and fertilizer accessible and increasing uptake, though only 61 percent of the intervention group adopted row planting and few farmers received marketing assistance. »
Monitoring rice agriculture across Myanmar using satellite data
Published by Remote Sensing Journal,
This article in the Remote Sensing Journal highlights new opportunities for monitoring agriculture. Assessment and monitoring of rice agriculture over large areas has been limited by cloud cover, optical sensor spatial and temporal resolutions, and lack of systematic or open access radar. The use of dense time series of open access Sentinel-1 C-band data at moderate spatial resolution offers innovative opportunities for assessment and monitoring of agriculture. »
Geodata and ICT solutions for inclusive finance and food security
Published by NpM,
This study 'Geodata and ICT Solutions for Inclusive Finance and Food Security', commissioned by NpM, Platform for Inclusive Finance, presents an overview of the possibilities and challenges of using geo-data and ICTs to improve agricultural production and access to finance for smallholder farmers. The publication is based on an analysis of 250 projects. »
Chinese agriculture in Africa: Perspectives of Chinese agronomists on agricultural aid
Published by IIED,
This paper by IIED presents the reflections of more than 160 Chinese agronomists who have spent time implementing Chinese agricultural technologies in Africa. Chinese actors are increasingly engaging in African agriculture. This research, conducted by the newly constituted research division of the Foreign Economic Cooperation Centre (FECC) of the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture, can be seen as a first step to gain insight into their experiences, in order to allow a more productive dialogue with a range of stakeholders in China-Africa agriculture engagement. »
Innovative farming and forestry across the emerging world: the role of genetically modified crops and trees
Published by International Industrial Biotechnology Network,
This book makes the “business case” for the role of biotechnology innovations for sustainable development in emerging and developing economies. It seeks to support the factual debate on biosciences and technology for developing and emerging economies. »
Understanding agricultural drivers of deforestation through remote sensing: opportunities and limitations in sub-Saharan Africa
Published by IIED,
This working paper by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) highlights opportunities and limitations for understanding agricultural drivers of deforestation through remote sensing. In this working paper, 14 of the most commonly used land cover data products are identified, with summarised spatial data, temporal and thematic properties, and estimates of forest and cropland area are compared. The limitations to land cover data that result from their divergent predictions are described and the implications for using this data to assess the agricultural drivers of deforestation in Africa are discussed. »
Building agricultural networks of farmers and scientists via mobile phones: case study of banana disease surveillance in Uganda
Published by The Canadian Journal of Plant Pathology,
This article in the Canadian Journal of Plant Pathology highlights an important challenge that is threatening agriculture in Africa: the difficulty in collecting timely data on disease spread and effectiveness of on-farm control methods. This study served as a case study for assessing the viability of a participatory GIS (Geographic Information System) to enable a plant diagnostics network with fieldworkers. »
Strengthening agricultural water efficiency and productivity on the African and global Level
Published by FAO,
This report by FAO targets agricultural water extension agents and technical experts, providing them with clear indications on how to improve water harvesting capacity for agricultural production as well as how to select feasible and suited water harvesting techniques for different geographical areas. The assessment outlined in this report forms part of the ‘Strengthening Agricultural Water Efficiency and Productivity on the African and Global Level’ project. »
Youth e-agriculture entrepreneurship
Published by CTA,
This magazine focuses on youth e-agriculture entrepreneurship. Young innovators in Africa, the Caribbean, and Pacific region, have recognized the need for creative solutions to raise agricultural productivity and the huge prospective market for their ICT-enabled services in agriculture. The issue includes articles with many examples and challenges of scaling-up initiatives and ensuring inclusive initiatives and on how to set up healthy, supportive eco-sytems for ICT start-ups in agriculture. It also offers practical advise on how young e-agriculture entrepreneurs can fund their initiatives and on how to develop a business strategy. »
Applications of Whole Genome Sequencing in food safety management
Published by FAO, WHO,
Recent advances in Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) technology have the potential to play a significant role in the area of food safety. WGS provides rapid identification and characterization of microorganisms, including antimicrobial resistance (AMR), with a level of precision not previously possible. WGS provides rapid identification and characterization of microorganisms, including antimicrobial resistance (AMR), with a level of precision not previously possible. »
How big data will revolutionize the global food chain
Published by Mckinsey,
This article by Mckinsey shows in what way the advanced analytics of big data opens vast untapped potential for farmers, investors, and emerging economies to reduce the cost of goods sold. By taking advantage of big data and advanced analytics at every link in the value chain from field to fork, food companies can harness digital’s enormous potential for sustainable value creation. »
Hello Tractor: smart tractors for smallholder farmers
Published by Takepart,
This blog on Takepart describes an interesting technological innovation serving smallholder farmers in Nigeria. For resource-poor farmers, labor shortages often leads to under-cultivation, poor harvests and lost income. Targeted farm mechanization has proven to be an effective solution to these shortages. Despite this, small farmers throughout Africa lack access to tractors to improve farm productivity. The company "Hello Tractor" has designed an innovative, low-cost “Smart Tractor” specifically for small farmers unique needs. »
Science, technology, and the politics of knowledge: The case of China’s agricultural technology demonstration centers in Africa
Published by World Development Journal,
This paper in the World Development Journal, studies the role of Agricultural Technology Demonstration Centre (ATDC) in Africa. The ATDC has been considered as an alternative model to pursue sustainability of Chinese foreign aid to African countries. This paper attempts to examine the ATDC scheme, particularly focus on the knowledge construction at macro level of design and the knowledge encounter at micro level of daily operation based on the case studies in Tanzania, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique. »
Drones on the horizon: New frontier in agricultural innovation
Published by CTA,
This issue elaborates on the potential of drone technology for agriculture. Drone technology could help farmers around the world monitor their crops, fend off pests, improve land tenure, and more. But to realize its full potential, regulatory regimes are necessary, while keeping citizens’ safety and privacy rights secure. »
Reducing rural women’s domestic workload through labour-saving technologies and practices
Published by IFAD,
This toolkit from IFAD provides practical papers on how labour-saving technologies and practices can promote inclusive development through reducing the domestic workload and freeing up time to perform productive tasks, but also to participate in decision-making processes and development opportunities. Labour-saving technologies can also make rural areas more attractive places for younger people. »
The adoption problem; or why we still understand so little about technological change in African agriculture
Published by Outlook on Agriculture,
In this article the authors argue a re-conceptualization of the concept of adoption of technology is needed. The notion of adoption is central to efforts to measure technological change in African agriculture, and plays an important role in the evaluation of return on investment in agricultural research and technology development. However, the adoption concept, as it is commonly used in both the literature and development research practice, is seriously flawed and leads to inaccurate and misleading conclusions. »
Agricultural service delivery through mobile phones: Local innovation and technological opportunities in Kenya
Published by Springer,
This book chapter elaborates on the spread of mobile phone use across Kenya and the opportunities this brings to improve service delivery for smallscale farmers. International and local companies have already started to capitalize on these opportunities, although many mobile phone-enabled services (m-services) are still at an early stage. Kenya has emerged as a leader in m-service development in Sub-Saharan Africa. The authors assesses the key factors that have helped the local innovation scene to emerge and reviews existing agricultural m-services that provide Kenyan farmers with access to information and learning, financial services, and input and output markets. »
Weather forecasting and monitoring: Mobile solutions for climate resilience
Published by GSMA, mAgri,
This paper explores new cases for weather monitoring and forecasting through mobile phones to enhance climate resilience. The authors advocate for increasing focus and investment from mobile network operators (MNOs), value added service (VAS) providers and donors into enabling technologies that can provide more localized and accurate service. In the developing world, the availability of localized, granular weather forecasts can benefit smallholder farmers who depend on rain for their agricultural activities and food security. »
New storage bags decrease agricultural waste and increase rural smallhoders’ income
Published by IPS,
The so-called PICS bags can cut agricultural waste and increase the incomes of rural smallholders. The PICS bags are big plastic storage sacks made of triple-lined plastic. The use of PICS bags can increase the potential value of the food that farmers grow, as they lower the risks of losses from insects. Also, with their crop better protected, smallholders can increase their own food security and can command higher prices at the market since they are not forced to sell the product directly after the harvest season. »
mAgri Design Toolkit: user-centered design for mobile agriculture
Published by GSMA,
This toolkit is a collection of instructions, tools and stories to help develop and scale mobile agriculture products by applying a user-centered design approach. The toolkit is a collection of instructions, tools and stories to help develop and scale mobile agriculture products by applying a user-centered design approach. It provides guides for different stages in a product development cycle elaborating on the tools and displaying stories from the field. »
Crop Monitoring for Improved Food Security
Published by Asian Development Bank, FAO,
This report of an expert meeting that gathered over fifty experts and focused on best practices and methodological issues related to crop monitoring and food security. Estimates and forecasts of crop area and yield are of critical importance to policy makers for the planning of agricultural production and monitoring of food supply. The possible links between poverty and crop yields, which depend upon a variety of factors such as cultivation practices, availability of irrigation, access to resources to buy agricultural inputs for adoption of new technology, cannot be fully understood without reliable estimates of crop area and yields. »
Success stories on information and communication technologies for agriculture and rural development
Published by FAO,
This publication presents seven case studies in innovative use of emerging technologies to significantly improve the living standards of farming communities. Information and communication technologies have provided opportunities to address challenges to improve agricultural production and productivity, and enhance value chains. »
Bubble desalination latest effort to boost crop growth
Published by Desalination,
The article in Desalination explains the Bubble-Greenhouse: A holistic sustainable approach to small-scale water desalination in remote regions. The Bubble-Greenhouse idea develops an existing seawater greenhouse concept, which uses the evaporation and condensation of salt water to produce fresh water for irrigation and to create a cool, humid environment inside a greenhouse, meaning crops need less water... »
Innovation systems and technical efficiency in developing-country agriculture
Published by Agricultural Economics Journal,
In this article in the Agricultural Economics Journal, the authors argue that policy makers should focus on differences across countries when trying to combat low productivity and formulating global strategies and national policies for agricultural development. They showed how different components of an agricultural innovation system interact, to determine levels of technical inefficiency in developing-country agriculture. »
e-Agriculture 10 Year Review Report: Implementation of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Action Line C7. ICT Applications: e-agriculture
Published by FAO,
This report by the FAO, provides a comprehensive overview on the topic of ICTs in agriculture and rural development, not only covering achievements but also bringing together a large number of practical examples that have proven their effectiveness. »
How can we improve agriculture, food and nutrition with open data?
Published by Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition,
This discussion paper elaborates on the role of open data in solving practical problems in agriculture and nutrition sectors. The authors state that alongside the challenges the world faces with regard to food security, there are also great opportunities due to the emerging global data infrastructure. The paper highlights three ways open data can contribute to increase food security. »
Uses of geothermal energy in food and agriculture: opportunities for developing countries
Published by FAO,
This book by FAO reviews the use of geothermal energy in agriculture and agro-industry around the world. It shows that geothermal resources have the potential to provide long-term, secure energy for the agriculture and food industry in both developed and developing countries. »
Drought and food security – improving decision-support via new technologies and innovative collaboration
Published by Sciencedirect,
This article in Global Food Security focusses on improved decision-support for agricultural droughts that threaten the livelihoods of people living in vulnerable regions. The authors claim that new strategic partnerships are required to link scientific findings to actual user requirements of governments and aid organizations and to turn data streams into useful information for decision-support. Furthermore, they list several... »
The most critical scientific & technological breakthroughs required for food security & agricultural development
Published by LIGTT,
The main purpose of the 50 Breakthroughs study by LIGTT is to identify where game-changing technologies for sustainable development are most required. The study's main objectives are to: 1) foster a thought-provoking conversation about the role of technology in solving the world's most pressing problems, 2) provide contextual background for technologists; and 3) provide decision-makers a guide to asking the hard--but important—questions. »
A diagnostic tool for integrated analysis of complex problems and innovation capacity
Published by Elsevier Agricultural Systems,
This paper published in the Agricultural Systems journal introduces Rapid Appraisal of Agricultural Innovation Systems (RAAIS), a diagnostic tool that can guide the analysis of complex agricultural problems and innovation capacity of the agricultural system in which the complex agricultural problem is embedded. The tool focuses on the integrated analysis of different dimensions of problems, interactions across different levels and the constraints and interests of different stakeholder groups. »
Unleashing science, technology and innovation for food and nutrition security: Developing a road map
Published by CTA,
The 2014 CTA international forum on “Unleashing Science, Technology and Innovation for Food and Nutrition Security: Developing a Road Map” brought together leading ACP and EU scholars, senior scientists/researchers/academicians, policy-makers, development practitioners, innovators, farmers and private sector representatives to deliberate on these interlinked issues which have national and global significance. The Forum covered four strategic... »
Six innovations revolutionising farming
Published by The Guardian,
In this article by The Guardian, six innovations in farmer technology as are highlighted relating to the increased agricultural productivity of the last half century. These include: 1) dairy hubs (see example); 2) fertiliser deep placement (FDP); 3) mobile apps, such as VetAfrica or Farming Instructor; 4) high-roofed greenhouses (see example); 5) new feeding systems... »
Kenya-Dutch PPP puts new twist on ancient farm technology
Published by SNV,
SNV Kenya and the Dutch company Land Life Company joined in a public-private partnership to improve the water efficiency and survival rates of young trees in dry-land Kenya. For avocado trees as well as mango trees, a Land Life Box is provided, a donut-hole centred box that delivers water slowly and over time to the... »
Nanotechnology in agriculture, livestock, and aquaculture in China: A review
Published by Agronomy for Sustainable Development,
Nanotechnologies have been less developed in agronomy than other disciplines, due to less investment, but nanotechnologies have the potential to improve agricultural production. In this article at Springer Link (PDF), the authors review more than 200 reports on nanoscience in agriculture, livestock and aquaculture in China since the 1990s. The major findings of the research are: »
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