The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) shut down its activities in December 2020 at the end of its mandate. The administrative closure of the Centre was completed in November 2021.

Resources next-generation ACP agriculture


Enhancing next-generation ACP agribusiness through digitalisation

Digitalisation in its many forms is fast spreading across all aspects of agriculture in developing countries, transforming and disrupting the ways food is produced, traded and consumed. However, do innovative digital solutions improve the performance, competitiveness and profitability of farmer-oriented agribusinesses in ACP countries? Thirty practitioners attending a CTA workshop zoomed in on real cases to test this question, assessing what works, how and why and drawing out insights and lessons – actionable knowledge – for wider application which are detailed in this CTA technical brief.

Overcoming challenges to digital agribusiness start-ups

The CTA workshop on ‘catalysing actionable knowledge to enhance next-generation ACP agribusiness through digitalisation’ identified five intersecting drivers that explain what farmer-oriented agribusinesses expect to achieve by investing in digitalisation: reduced risk, raised productivity, increased efficiency, improved decisions, and enhanced market access. Participants argued that digital interventions all serve one or more of these, depending on specific local needs and situations. A critical factor underpinning what works in all of these areas is the economic sustainability of the business models used to deliver value and services as further outlined in this brief.

Making agriculture attractive to young people

Drawing from current practice, this CTA brief proposes several ways to make agriculture more attractive to young people, including: promoting farming in schools; having young farmers act as demonstrators and role models for other young farmers; encouraging and supporting youth champions and proactively communicating positive perceptions of agriculture as a career; seeking out and promoting attractive and profitable modern farm technologies as well as emerging opportunities along the entire value chain; and using digital technologies as entry points that match the interests of the next generation. Critical in all of this is to encourage the shift from subsistence to business, so young people see and can experience brighter futures in agri-food chains.

Creating jobs for rural youth in agricultural value chains

This CTA brief argues that youth-inclusive investments to modernise the agricultural sector will unleash its huge potential, offer attractive employment opportunities and create a level playing field for rural girls and boys. It sets out several youth-inclusive approaches that will help agricultural value chain development programmes meet the needs of young people. These include different approaches for different classes of youth; helping young people understand and respond to markets; making youth aware of job opportunities in agriculture; building the capacities of young people; facilitating their access to finance and land; and building social capital and networks.

Engaging youth in policy processes on agriculture and agribusiness

This brief argues that policymakers in ACP countries must engage with young people to ensure that the policy environment reflects their interests and makes the sector attractive to them. Policies that work for and with youth are more likely to attract young people to the sector, injecting dynamism, growth and transformation. Key actions include: setting up platforms and mechanisms for youth to engage in policy-making and to access employment opportunities; extend and improve consultative processes in rural areas; review existing policies with youth; proactively strengthen participation of young women in rural organisations and institutions; and strengthen the capacities of youth organisations to make their voices heard.

Women and digitalisation in agriculture

Research and statistics state that women constitute around 40% of the agricultural labour force in the ACP region and while they make essential contributions to rural economies and the growing advancements in digitalisation – the gender gap in access to ICTs continue to widen. This means women farmers, particularly in rural areas, experience difficulties accessing information, financial products and services and markets. They also often do not participate in relevant policymaking. See the latest issue of ICT Update for further resources on women and digitalisation in agriculture.

Making climate-smart agriculture work for women farmer and entrepreneurs

Participants at the CTA workshop on delivering climate-smart agriculture were introduced to a ‘Reach, Benefit, and Empower’ framework that classifies interventions according to the extent they are able to increase the participation of women (REACH), strengthen the returns they get from their efforts (BENEFIT), and/or strengthen women’s ability to make strategic life choices, and put those choices into action (EMPOWER).

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Digitalisation in climate-smart agriculture

Using innovative ICT tools and working through key partnerships, CTA’s climate-smart agricultural (CSA) solutions project for cereal and livestock farmers in Southern Africa aims to provide small-scale farmers at risk from climate change with greater access to information and strengthened capacity in order to effectively adopt CSA solutions.

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Digital as well as other technical and institutional innovations underpin the success of agriculture in developing-country countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP). Such innovations are encouraging a new generation of young ‘agripreneurs’ to tackle agri-food challenges, explore ways to build resilience to climate change, and improve the incomes and livelihoods of people in agriculture.

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Three young entrepreneurs working in the digitalisation for agriculture sector have learned the hard way that delivering technology-driven solutions for smallholder farmers in Africa can present special challenges. Here, they share some of their insights, including a survival strategy that they claim is critical to success – diversify or die.


For online agricultural trading platforms to be scaled and sustained, they need to overcome an array of challenges relating to system design, revenue traction and uptake. Here, Samwel Rutto, regional manager for Structured Trading Systems at the Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC), highlights the common pitfalls and key considerations for agribusiness when trying to grow their online client base.

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Experience with climate-smart agriculture (CSA) initiatives increasingly shows that delivering green services in isolation is an ineffective approach that produces disappointing outcomes. The provision of ‘bundled’ of products which are suited to farmers requirements is far more likely to promote CSA uptake, increasing sustainability and resilience to climate change as a result. Examples from different CTA projects show this approach in action.

Past issues

ICT Update N. 91

Next-generation ACP agriculture - innovations that work

ICT Update N. 90

Women and Digitalisation in Agriculture

ICT Update N. 89

Data4Ag: New opportunities for organised smallholder farmers

ICT Update N. 88

Unlocking the potential of blockchain for agriculture

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