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How Ethiopia is harnessing technology to boost smallholder agriculture in the wake of climate change

Author: Seble Samuel, The Reporter (Ethiopia), Published on: 20 November 2019

"Launching digital agro-climate advisory platform in Ethiopia"

There was a time when traditional ecological knowledge was enough. When ancestral wisdom guided communities to sense the moods of the rains, the temperaments of the winds, the hidden messages of the clouds. Through these interpretations of nature, farming communities could foretell times of planting, times of abundance and times of harvest. These times are decidedly gone. An atmosphere saturated by carbon has done more than uproot physical ecosystems, halt livelihoods and abruptly displace whole communities, leaving only a memory of something familiar; it has disrupted and stolen from traditional ecological knowledge systems.

Digital agriculture—complete with its repertoire of climate services, agricultural advisories and mobile technologies, weather forecasts and agricultural data infrastructure, sensors and spatial modeling—is emerging to bolster these disrupted knowledge systems. The alliance of digital technologies and agricultural systems is a promising response to the struggles of rising populations, growing food demand and ecological crisis by transforming food systems, harnessing resource efficiency, building sustainability and amplifying productivity...

In the midst of Ethiopia’s exponential population climb and the strikes of the climate emergency with erratic rains, dry spells, sharp floods and failed crops, the country launched a digital agro-climate advisory platform, called EDACaP, to put resilience at the center of agricultural livelihoods...EDACaP’s pilot phase has already reached 82,000 smallholder farmers across Ethiopia and is expected to reach 16.7 million farmers once scaled through the Ministry of Agriculture and the country’s more than 60,000 agricultural extension agents. EDACaP is not alone in the push to facilitate Ethiopia’s food systems to go hand in hand with digital approaches. YeZaRe, developed by the social enterprise Echnoserve, is a digital mobile system that provides weather and market data to smallholder farmers, as well as connects these farmers to markets to ensure income for their livelihoods and reduce losses at the hands of middlemen.

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