Global UN Agritech Initiative Seeks to Help Small Farmers

Agriculture provides food for the world, but will Agritech be able to keep the business alive? Despite its size, the global agricultural business remains stagnant or even regressive in some areas, as it is one of the last to catch up to technological innovation.

Agriculture employs about one billion people worldwide, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Furthermore, agriculture accounts for more than half of all micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in emerging economies.

Smallholder farmers, who own less than 2 hectares of land but account for 82 percent of overall agriculture landholding, employ a considerable number of people.

Smallholders are responsible for more than 50-60 percent of agriculture output in these nations, therefore they play an essential role in driving agriculture productivity.

Consider India, which has a population of over a billion people who rely mostly on agriculture for their livelihoods, particularly in rural areas. Despite this, the industry’s contribution to GDP has decreased from 1951 to 2011 – a staggering 82 percent of farmers continue to have a tiny and negligible impact.

Despite the fact that the country has attained grain self-sufficiency, food security remains a concern for the majority of people, and the poverty rate remains high at 30%.

According to the FAO, around 113 million people globally were already experiencing severe acute food insecurity before the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020-2021, this number is expected to skyrocket, with the UN World Food Program (WFP) forecasting that 272 million people are already or at risk of becoming acutely food insecure.

Nonetheless, many countries that rely on agriculture, such as India, have reason to be optimistic. Through innovation and the use of technology, agritech and agri-fintech firms may well be the answer to addressing persisting difficulties within the historically manual and tedious industry. They promise revolutionary possibilities with analytics, IoT, and crowdsourcing based on data and intelligence.

The United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) developed the Agritech Challenge 2021 to solve the issues encountered by smallholder farmers in Asia and Africa, with the goal of assisting them in improving their financial health.

By collaborating with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Bayer as partners, the challenge aims to find answers to concerns such as productivity, climate change, and supply chain management.

Agriculture is both a lifeline and a high-risk sector in many underdeveloped countries. Prices, policies, diseases, as well as variable weather and climate change, all have an unpredictable impact.

Participants in the Agritech Challenge will have access to industry and market connections, investors, and mentorship to assist them to expand to their selected foreign market.

Through the challenge, the UNCDF wants to facilitate cross-border collaborations among emerging markets in India, Indonesia, Malawi, Malaysia, Kenya, Uganda, and Zambia.

As part of UNCDF’s work under the Global Centre for Financial Health, the Challenge will help participants design and test their solution in the new market, with future support on growing the solution.

Applications for the Agritech Challenge 2021 are now being accepted by tech, agritech, and fintech innovators. The deadline for submissions is August 30, 2021.

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