Why new tech holds the key for small businesses in agriculture

This would help Kuza to exponentially grow its impact on the lives of smallholder farmers across Kenya and work towards improving their productivity, income, and overall quality of life

What are the key differences or similarities you gathered between Kenya and other nations on the adoption of technology and digital solutions in farming?

From the summit, we have observed that there is a lot of similarity in the way different Agtech companies are adopting technology and digital solutions in farming. Across the three core streams of the innovation challenge, there were over 180 plus Agtech companies that have commercial digital solutions.

How does Kuza stand out from the rest?

Kuza was the only Agritech innovator. Kuza has taken a customer (farmer) centric approach by focusing on the smallholder farmer, listening to them, understanding their needs and challenges, deploying a local youth Agripreneur as their goto person to offer bundled services of advisory, information service, access to quality inputs, credit, and markets. Using Kuza's OneNetwork, a double-sided digital marketplace, Kuza can curate the offerings from other AgTech innovators and traditional service providers and get them access to the smallholder farmers network which is very hard to reach and serve for most of them.

Your focus is on women and youth-led small businesses. Why is this demographic important?

An average Kenyan farmer is 63 years old, and an average Kenyan is aged 19 years. There is a huge demographic dividend leading to an intergenerational crisis. It's important to focus on the women and rural youth whose voice is never heard. Our youth are not interested in agriculture as they don't find it interesting.

With the advent of Agritech innovations, data-driven agriculture, precision agriculture and services around food and agriculture, the number of jobs and opportunities within the sector are many.

At Kuza, we see the future is farming, and we have to take the responsibility to crowd in all the ecosystem actors and drive the needed change before it's too late. With Agriculture and food sector contributing to over 70 per cent of the gross domestic product of (GDP) and most of our export revenues, there are many opportunities.

Kuza is at the helm of driving the much-needed systems change and is confident that the needle is moving. We are consciously working towards driving the youth in the agriculture narrative and with over 1,500+ already across Kenya the change is visible.

To what extent would you say technology has a role to play in making agriculture enticing to the youth?

Technology, especially digital technology, plays an extremely important role in agriculture in attracting youth. Having closely listened to our farmers over the past decade, we've learnt a lot. Everyone is becoming time-poor. They all expect instant gratification.

Digital technologies are giving a unique opportunity to the youth to offer a set of data-driven agricultural services (which was not possible earlier). With the growing penetration of smartphones, WhatsApp, and mobile technologies, universal access to knowledge, information and services is becoming ubiquitous.

Kuza realised the need is to expose the youth to the possibilities and create an enabling environment where the youth can play a pivotal role in driving the change. Kuza's Leadership Academy is targeted at youth to change their mindset, help them see the opportunities, make them realize the potential of this sector, understand the business of agriculture, and be part of the change they want to see.

How practical is it to adopt solutions that have worked elsewhere locally; and why is the global view important in this case?

With the advent of the internet and mobile penetration, information is power. We now live in a world where physical boundaries (of counties and countries) do not matter. Social media has made the world flat. A global mindset is important in today's world as the demand for a product or service is cross-border. A mango in south Korea is priced at Sh1,700, while we get it locally at almost one-tenth of that cost.