Skip to main content

Recent developments in Kenya’s agriculture have seen a steady emergence of experimentation with a wide range of digital solutions targeting smallholder farmers. The inspirations driving these innovations and application of technology in the sector draw from the need to make agriculture efficient and cost effective and increase profits and food production, especially within the context of climatic change. Digital agriculture is being rapidly deployed in Kenya, with the promise of helping smallholder farmers for example, to improve and sustain yields, withstand unpredictable weather conditions and environmental degradation, and respond to market fluctuations. The application of digital solutions does not only involve farmers, but also auxiliary service providers such as agricultural input distributors, to resolve problems with product quality monitoring and traceability. There is some evidence that digital solutions in agriculture can improve efficiency by reducingfinancial and labour costs, informing management decisions, increasing product quality, reducing losses and using resources sparingly. However, digital agriculture can produce new inequalilties in data and knowledge ownership. Warning against romanticisation of digital agriculture, a political economy perspective requires attention to powerful actors and their interests. This review of a range of types of digital technologies points to the early dominance of several donor-funded initiatives partnering with local developers. Research should explore how smallholder farmers perceive and practically interact with the new digital knowledge on farming,and what explains various levels of uptake, and the outcomes for power and control in the agrofood system.

Download this working paper here