Hunger cured, finally…. by digital technology

Food security remains a critical issue in almost all African countries. Agricultural production is often disrupted, resulting in food shortages or other forms of famine with very devastating consequences. Climate disturbances are at the root of this dangerous reduction in agricultural production. There is sometimes heavy rainfall or less rain and lots of sun destroying crops. The various diseases that affect plants should not be overlooked. Not to mention the lack of agricultural policy. Policy makers in African countries have complete control over the agricultural sector.

Wasn’t Erik Orsenna right when he said that “a country that loses its agriculture also loses its soul?” The indifference with which African leaders approach agriculture already confirms that many African countries have lost their souls as they have quietly abandoned their agriculture. Yet the land, which is the basis of our cult and our cultures, produces food that keeps us alive. Don’t they say in the bible that we come from the earth and that we will return to the earth? The land that nourishes people and living things contains both the beginning and the end of living things.

In Burundi, the country of my origin, more than 90% of the population lives from farming the land. This majority branch of the population produces more than 70% of the country’s wealth while the state spends less than 10% of its budget on the agricultural sector. Poor and abandoned by the state, these men and women of the agricultural countryside have to deal with various weather conditions, plant diseases and even the acidity of the soil.

This article will try to show how the digital system can easily answer many of their concerns. Burundian farmers still carry a machete. But nowadays they also, some, have a smartphone in their possession. The smartphone can be used to record tasks and data. The only risk, of course, is to become dependent on it.

The possibilities offered by software and smartphone applications could revolutionize agriculture in Burundi. This by reacting effectively to weather situations, to prevent drought or flooding that can damage already cultivated fields and waste products at harvest. That’s not all. Software and smartphone applications can also provide useful information to recognize a disease, learn how to treat it, and tell where and when to apply fertilizer. This way of making information available to modernize agriculture in Burundi (provided, of course, that the state invests in it) allows farmers to focus on the core of their work: production. Such agriculture, under the wings of digital technology, also offers the opportunity to significantly improve their yield and environmental performance. Precisely thanks to the cross-references of available data.

Social networks are becoming essential in this regard because they become smoother channels of communication between farmers and upstream actors in the chain. In the most advanced countries, digital technology is highly developed both upstream and downstream of the agricultural chain. According to Sysk, an online magazine in French that regularly publishes about digital progress in agriculture, digital answers to each of the steps that agriculture must take in its operation. Whether it concerns the management of a field, the organization of a livestock, the purchase of raw materials or the sale of production, digital is present in everything and supports the work of the farmer.

Many agricultural sales centers have recently opened. Like Amazon for the general public, these sites allow the online purchase of products and tools necessary for agricultural activities. In France, there is Agriconomie, which has more than 45,000 customers and has been very successful due to its high transparency on the prices charged, a particularly complex figure to obtain before the arrival of this model.

This is explained by the fact that, partly due to the cooperatives that sell these products, there are often customer support and follow-up costs associated with them. There are many online platforms for purchasing various agricultural products. As well as InVivo, the largest union of French cooperatives. This sector also makes use of economic cooperation. For example, many sites have appeared in recent years to connect farmers to facilitate access to certain tools or services.

Two major companies compete online for the sale of farm equipment. These are WeFarmUp and To find those agricultural service providers, the farmers can go to LinkinFarm. And to connect farmers, Farmr is at their disposal. This is, of course, a professional social network between farmers. The bottom line is that money is not overlooked by the digital world. Everyone knows that the problem of access to capital remains central to farmers. To fund projects, Miimosa sets up a crowdfunding platform, inspired by a different concept from another platform known as Kickstarter. With the difference that Miimosa has added a farmer loan functionality.

In the field of production, digitization is proving equally effective in the flow of farm produce. The Startup Performer and ComparateurAgricole are useful platforms in this area of ​​product flow. The Startup Performer is an important tool that ensures the monitoring of agricultural production prices in order to sell at the best time.

ComparateurAgricole offers a hybrid service between the online sale of raw materials and information on agricultural production prices. Digital technology has also enabled small producers to cope with large farms, in particular by providing tools. This is to get much closer to the end consumer. Digital technology has therefore provided many solutions to make it easier for small farmers.

To come back to what digital technology could bring to the agricultural sector in Burundi, we could answer precisely: a lot can be achieved, of course thanks to digital technology. Access to capital remains a headache for Burundian farmers. This is where digital technology can contribute a lot. By providing many solutions to open roads to the financial markets available for agricultural credit. Controlling climate disturbances to combat both drought and flooding is also the central problem of agriculture in Burundi and in this context digital technology can help to solve these problems. The few farmers’ cooperatives that exist and survive in Burundi have difficulties in management: to sell their products when it is needed to make a profit. These are solutions that can be delivered digitally. In our next editions, we will try to explore and demonstrate the potential effectiveness of digital technology in Burundi by focusing on these priority sectors: finance, climate and marketing.