FAO Fronts Digitizing Agriculture in Rural Senegal

In November 2016, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) launched the Agricultural Services and Digital Inclusion in Africa (ASDIA) project, with Flexible Voluntary Contribution funding.

A project whose main objective was to provide farmers with real-time information on weather forecasts, best agricultural practices, livestock care, market prices, health, and nutrition directly from specially developed applications on their cell phones.

FAO through the development of a “Weather and Crop Calendar” app, has enabled farmers a new ability to predict the start and end of the rainy season accurately, as well as the frequency and expected amount of rain. Making it a crucial informer when choosing the right type of seeds and timing for production cycles. It’s through proper planning considering the duration that catastrophic losses witnessed in dry years are evaded.

In Nioro, Senegal, Mamadou Drame, a father of four children, now looks down at a screen instead of up at the skies as was in the traditional days, to understand the weather and know what to plant. Historical rain cycles have become increasingly unreliable because of climate change, upsetting patterns of planting and harvesting. Thankfully, digital innovations have stepped in assisting him to boost his rice, maize, millet, and vegetable production. These tools are also helping in finding buyers and receiving payments on his phone.

“We have never had this kind of information or access to markets. It has completely changed how we think about this business. Now we can plan, plant, harvest, sell and earn with security we have never had,” says Mamadou. 

Based on this possibility, over 300 000 Senegalese farmers have so far registered with ASDIA enabling an option to receive advisory messages in their local vernaculars. The African Development Bank (AfDB) also mobilized USD 1 million in 2022 to deploy ASDIA and other FAO digitization initiatives to the deeper Casamance region in southern Senegal, by financing the development of new apps.
With the use of this technology, Mamadou has regained trust in his agricultural production as he remarks on his confidence when it comes to the production and sales of his produce. “I know that I can earn enough to feed my family, take my children to school and grow my business,” he states.

ASDIA is one part of the broader Senegalese model of the  1 000 Digital Villages Initiative (DVI) led by FAO. A model that promotes rural transformation through digitization of agriculture, addressing agricultural and non-agricultural bottlenecks and leveraging greater innovation for better production.

A model of Digital Villages Initiative places small-scale farmers at the center of its fight against hunger, poverty, and inequality towards addressing the issue. Senegal is among the nine African countries and a multitude of countries worldwide participating in the DVI models implementation.

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