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Workshop report: 25-26 September 2023

The digital revolution in global agriculture has begun and this includes digital technology in African agriculture. We now see the use of a variety of digital tools on the continent, such as drones,
precision farming machinery, digital decision-making support tools, digital labour management tools or online food and agricultural input marketplaces. Even though the digital revolution is still at an early stage in many countries in the global South, it is gathering pace as many actors in the international development community herald it as a solution to achieving food security, and environmentally
sustainable and climate-resilient agriculture through climate-smart agriculture. Digitalisation is often presented as a silver bullet to solve the tension between productivity, profitability, and sustainability in food production. Donor agencies are following a ‘digitalisation for development’ approach, while the World Bank and the FAO promote digitalisation as a key tool for transforming small-holder agriculture in the global South. The consultation workshop with PLAAS at the University of the Western Cape and the Collaborative Research Centre at the University of Cologne discussed that research on these areas could focus on the governance, ownership, regulation and access to data. It should investigate the impacts on farmers’ linkages to markets and integration into supply chains at different scales, rather than looking at changes exclusively at farm level. It was also proposed that the research distinguish between tech that has been developed and is available versus tech that is taken up and deployed – as there is some evidence of a high fall-off rate and attrition among tech companies and users

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