National, News

FAO launches digital agriculture platforms

By Gladys Fred Kole


Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has launched an ecosystem digital solution platform designed to leverage e-agriculture to achieve maximum farming efficiency.

The digital agriculture platform was launched on Tuesday under the theme “Enhancing Service Delivery through Digitalization for Improved Agricultural Production”.

The digital package is composed of an e-registry and voucher management system, an e-extension and weather advisory mobile platform, as well as a seed management system.

They are designed to create a harmonized database for farmers in the country and help in the disbursement of farm inputs.

Meanwhile, the E-extension and weather advisory mobile platform will provide extension and weather advisory services to farmers.

This will be complemented by a seed management system that allows key actors in the seed supply chain, including seed regulators, seed companies, distributors, and retailers, to be on board one platform.

According to FAO, this development will ensure the digitalization of seed coordination, seed market information, and quality control.

Speaking during the launch yesterday, the National Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Josephine Lagu, mentioned the need to accelerate the pace of digitalizing the agriculture sector and the need to promote youth participation.

She stressed that, in this country, we suffer from two problems: low agricultural production and low agricultural productivity.

“With such an innovation being applied in the agricultural sector, we trust this will make the achievement of our ministry’s mandate a lot easier,” said Mrs. Lagu.

“The future of agriculture in South Sudan is going to be underpinned by digitalization on the one hand and increased participation by the youth on the other,” she continued. “If we get this digitalization-youth balance right, we will be poised to grow our agriculture exponentially.”

Minister Lagu emphasized that for agriculture to transform to the next level, it must be science-based, youth-driven, and, more importantly, digitalized.

What we are witnessing today are bold steps towards digitalization of the agrarian sector in the country, and this work has been on for close to two years now,” she noted.

She further reiterated the need for peace and security in the country, as this was the bedrock of any sustainable agrarian transformation.

“Allow me to emphasize that South Sudan will require long-lasting peace and stability in order to fully benefit from such digital platforms,” she added. “When peace and stability are guaranteed, everything else will follow.”

For his part, FAO’s country representative, Meshack Melo, said they believe that the future of farming lies in e-agriculture and technological innovations.

“The digital ecosystem we are launching today is part of our ongoing efforts to ensure South Sudan is not left behind in the digitalization process.” Said Meshack

He explained that the E-extension and weather advisory package is a key package that is a mobile-based platform to facilitate the dissemination of extension services as well as weather information.

In view of the unpredictable weather patterns occasioned by climate change, weather advisory applications have become a necessary part of farming, said the FAO country representative.

The digital agricultural platform has been developed by three high-profile digital organizations in East Africa, with support from the government of South Sudan in partnership with the African Development Bank.

The digital ecosystem provides a harmonized database of farmers, livestock keepers, seed producers, and other stakeholders to facilitate the management of beneficiaries enrolled in various interventions.

The platforms will capture beneficiary biodata, fingerprints, images, production data, input demand, size of field or fields, livestock, agro-dealers data, and any other important information envisaged.

Data will be captured through various approaches, including a mobile-based application, especially in remote areas, while offline and later synced to a database once the tablet is connected to the internet.

The platform will support crop, fishery, and livestock production by building synergies between farmers, traders, input suppliers, and government agencies.

The digital platforms are expected to begin operating immediately.

With advantages such as a harmonized database for farmers, livestock keepers, seed producers, and other stakeholders.

Transparency in input distribution, access to quality seeds, and connecting players in the agriculture value chain are additional benefits.

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