DIGITIZING AGRICULTURE VALUE CHAINS
An Agriculture value chain is a range of steps and related actions necessary for an agriculture product to move from the farm to the final customers. It thus involves a range of activities that add value to the product. This process is often quite complex, thus digitalizing the processes could make these value chains more efficient.
Value chains work best when their actors cooperate to produce higher-quality products and generate more income for all participants along the chain, as opposed to the simplest
kinds of value chains, in which producers and buyers exchange only price information — often in an adversarial mode. (Synnefa,2021).
Digital agriculture is the integration of digital technology into livestock and crop management and other processes related to cultivating and managing food resources (Advanced mobile group, 2022). According to a paper by Direct Line Group, digital farming is the consistent application of the methods of precision agriculture and smart farming, internal and external networking of the farm, and the use of web-based data platforms together with Big Data analyses. Literally, digital agriculture is used to describe how technology integrates and works throughout the supply chain, from seeds or farm animals to the consumer. Bringing technology into the agricultural sector involves a wide range of strategies, including artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, mobile technologies, and other digital solutions. Based on preference, Agricultural SMEs can digitize their operations at the different stages of the value chain through;
- The use of Robotics to plant, harvest, weed, feed, and slaughter livestock.
- The use of artificial intelligence (AI) to get information on the Agricultural industry and other information they need quickly and efficiently.
- The use of drones to get insights about harvest timing, irrigation, pest protection, and much more.
- The use of the Internet of Things (IoT) and sensors to get real-time visibility of farm activities through tracking of live animals and produce, evaluating environmental factors as well as the health of livestock.
- The use of cloud-based connectivity.
- The use of data analytics to create robust solutions that help in the collection, storing, and making sense of Agricultural data to aid informed decision-making.
Digitalizing agriculture value chains is quite beneficial for both farmers and buyers, including lowering the costs of withdrawing, transporting, and securing cash and distributing payments – either to farmers directly or via associations or cooperatives (Lonie, 2021).
Digitalizing value chains are also significant to the farmers through;
- The creation of a robust and flexible farm management system.
- Streamlined communication through crop, weather, and pest reports, alerts, and/or insights.
- Traceability of produce.
- Improved quality and quality of supplies.
- Effective real-time monitoring of farm/value chain operations, etc.
- Acceleration of digital financial services for farmers.
Digital technologies being a means for farmers to integrate financial and field-level records have the capacity to transform and grow the Agricultural sector. Companies thus need to develop strategies to adopt technologies, also as part of their climate adaptation process.
Furthermore, data on soil, weather, and crop growth patterns are currently being used as a means for measuring an Agri-SMEs’ creditworthiness, in a world where the lack of sufficient collateral is increasingly becoming an obstacle for access to finance for women-led Agri-SMEs. It is thus imperative for every Agri-SME to effectively utilize all entry points for digitizing the agricultural sector.