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International Partnerships

Digital Agriculture Africa: addressing, economic and food security impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic through digital learning

Mrs. Ruth Ndunge Mutunga, a pawpaw smallholder farmer from Muwa Ward in Machakos Subcounty
Mrs. Ruth Ndunge Mutunga, a pawpaw smallholder farmer from Muwa Ward in Machakos Subcounty
FSPN Africa

GIZ’s Digital Agriculture Africa (DAA) programme addresses the economic and food security impacts of the COVID-19 crisis by providing a digital learning “Farm-to-Fork" solution. As one of the eight winning solutions of the innovation competition #SmartDevelopmentHack, Digital Agriculture Africa provides various digital tools to the challenges smallholder farming groups in Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia face.

African farming accounts for a significant portion of employment opportunities, local food security and contributions to national GDP. However, low access to information, markets and investment, low use of inputs, degraded soils and a lack of water management pose surmountable challenges for smallholder farmers. The impact of COVID-19 in Africa significantly intensified these existing challenges, plunging the region into its first recession in over 25 years.

Digital Agriculture Africa helps small-scale farmers overcome these impacts and challenges. It enables scaled digital learning about topics such as climate-smart farming, COVID-19 pandemic and other critical topics through a free, open access learning platform. The approach seeks to enable zero contact access across digital food security and agriculture supply value chains, including small-scale farmers and urban consumers at the end of the food system chain.


Scope and objectives

Farming is the cornerstone for African economies, accounting for two-thirds of employment and contributing at least 15% of GDP.  However, COVID-19 and its various impacts have worsened existing access- and climate-related challenges in the region. COVID-19 has plunged the region into its first recession in over 25 years, with activity contracting by nearly 5% on a per capita basis, contributing to an acute level of food insecurity in the region. 

GIZ’s Digital Agriculture Africa (DAA) promotes zero-contact learning, networking, and consumer trading access in response to the threats posed by COVID-19 Pandemic. The project seeks to target specifically women and youth in a bottom-up approach to supporting smallholder farming groups. By scaling digital learning on critical topics, the DAA approach seeks to empower smallholder farmers to overcome new and continued challenges.

The project seeks to provide:

  • Training and good agriculture practices (GAPs), information on COVID-19 and other critical topics, including links to WhatsApp for Smallholder facility 
  • Links to credit providers for input finance 
  • Aggregation and quality control 
  • Transport & logistics 
  • Matchmaking with off-takers 
  • Linkages to end-consumers via e-commerce platform 



Despite the surmountable obstacles posed by COVID-19 Pandemic, the Digital Agriculture Africa project has been an effective tool to help smallholder farmers respond to these complex challenges.

Results can be found at all stages of the ‘farm-to-fork’ journey where: 

  • More than 200,000 farmers have been trained in modern farming practices.
  • Of the farmers accessing the training tools, 51% are women.
  • Through the DAA’s digital food marketplace, more than 12,000 transactions have been generated.
  • More than 43 institutions have engaged, and partnered with the Digital Agriculture Africa solution to help scale the project.
  • The platform has added approximately 30+ value chain sets, which are available for download and integration into digital channels.
  • The content is now available in Kiswahili, Amharic and English.

Phase 1 of the program was launched at the end of December 2020 in Kenya, followed closely by deepening networks in Nigeria. In the currently running second Phase, the project is being scaled to Tanzania, Uganda, and Ethiopia and is aiming to reach 1 million smallholder farmers. Phase 2 puts a special focus on equipping women with the tools they need to grow their farming business.

To facilitate the scaling of these solutions from FSPN and CoAmana, MCA is developing Sprout, “The Open Content for Agriculture Platform”. Sprout is an open access digital platform - a global public good - working with civic, private and governmental partners to drive farmer capability and better respond and adapt to systemic shocks like COVID.



Digital Agriculture Africa (DAA) is one of the eight winning projects in the #SmartDevelopmentHack, organised by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and the European Commission in April 2020. As such, in December 2020, the project was initiated by GIZ’s Smart Development Fund and Mercy Corps AgriFin (MCA) in partnership with innovators Food Security for Peace and Nutrition- Africa (FSPN) and CoAmana Services. The project is currently executed by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH with over 40 institutions engaged and partnering with the DAA project.