Digital Agriculture Knowledge Sharing - AGRF Side Meeting
The African Green Revolution Forum is underway in Accra, Ghana and the FAO E-Agriculture team is participating and facilitated a parallel session on Establishing the International Digital Council for Food and Agriculture, on the 3rd of September and the FAO CIO director also spoke on the Panel Discussion on Evidence-Based Leadership and Data Systems on Tuesday, 3 September from 14:30 – 16:30
On the 4th of September, FAO team is invited to attend and participate to the Digital Agriculture Knowledge Sharing side event, which will see practitioners such as CTA, Dalberg, GSMA, MaMo Panel and USAID amongst others attending.
This is a closed session for invited donors, report creators, technology practitioners, private investors and others who can provide a perspective on the generation, consumption and usefulness of content about the ag-tech sector.
About the Digital Agriculture Knowledge Sharing Meeting
The ag-tech sector is rapidly growing globally with increasing investment flowing into a fragmented market. While most of this activity is in industrial countries focused on precision agriculture, there is growing activity in developing and emerging markets as well.
These latter markets are more complex with a mix of donor grants, donor investment, innovation funds, early stage investment, impact investments plus traditional investment and venture capital funds that are seeking later stage companies. The challenges in smallholder farming environments are quite different than those in the advanced economies that require more lean and focused value propositions.
Despite this there is much activity in the ag-tech space and it is becoming difficult to keep track of the companies that are emerging, how they are evolving and pivoting, how many farmers they are reaching, and more importantly from a donor perspective, what the impact of these solutions are and how to compare solutions.
Unlike industrial markets where dedicated platforms track M&E activity (e.g. agfunder, pitchbook, and crunchbase) there is little information available about activities in developing countries – and not enough private investment activity to justify these platforms to closely track these markets.
What does exist tends to be focused on later stage companies, one-off landscaping reports or specific deep dives into some aspect of the value chain. Many organizations keep their own databases of ag-tech solutions – often from slightly different perspectives: whether that be a geographic focus, an investment perspective, the donor view, value chain segment, technology partner lens or impact assessment etc. A diversity of these efforts is likely to continue with more growth projected in the ag-tech sector.
The question posed here is whether there is a need to improve knowledge sharing between various players in the developing and emerging market ag-tech sector?
The Session Approach
The session would dive into the characteristics of landscaping reports, databases and knowledge hubs. The meeting will hear from a number of practitioners such as CTA-Dalberg, GSMA, MaMo Panel, USAID etc. who have built knowledge assets.
The session will explore ways to more efficiently track and share ag-tech and innovations, and discuss issues such as duplication of effort, level of detail, overarching goals, proprietary information and the potential downsides of sharing information and studies about ag-tech startups. We are not necessarily proposing a centralized “one size fits all” system – as there are numerous facets to knowledge sharing.
The session will assess ways to collaborate and share intelligence between platforms, discuss what a distributed system might look like (e.g. via regular convenings or data sharing standards and API’s), and where consolidating knowledge hub efforts may make sense – ultimately we want to hear from a variety of stakeholders on what their interests and needs are.
The Expected Outcome
The outcome of this session should be a better understanding of the challenges and issues of compiling and sharing information and some possible solutions and opportunities to pool resources into a collective effort to address these challenges.