Is There a Role for Mobiles to Support Sustainable Agriculture in Africa?
Atlantis Press

In this paper we present the findings of an in-depth consultation with 50 experts in Agriculture and ICT. The qualitative study explored how ICTs, particularly mobile phones, could be used to accelerate the uptake of Sustainable Agriculture in Africa. Situating the responses in a broad literature review, the data and subsequent analysis paint a broad picture of a converging landscape of agriculture and ICTs. Its main conclusion is that the application of ICT (including mobiles) in agriculture is sustainability neutral; that is to say that ICT is equally applicable to the expansion of conventional, high external input dependent agriculture, or to the development of more sustainable, agro-ecological approaches. The rapid growth in mobile phone penetration in developing countries therefore presents a significant opportunity to help underpin a transformation in agricultural development and food systems, but without a co-operative and focused effort across different stakeholders groups - local actors, private sector partners, donors, expert institutions, and national governments - the potential for mobiles to empower sustainable agricultural development is unlikely to be maximized. The paper outlines the major assumptions behind these statements, and presents a conceptual model for understanding the flow of information through the agriculture sector.