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Use and impact of digital technologies among agricultural intermediaries

High hopes have been pinned on digital agricultural (D4Ag) solutions to increase agricultural productivity and food security in Africa. Such solutions provide digitally enabled services to agricultural producers and other actors in agricultural value chains, such as mobile payments, supply chain management software, digital advisory services or e-commerce. Many D4Ag solutions are targeted directly at small-scale producers, in part to replace traditional intermediaries, such as e-extension or virtual markets for inputs and output. However, agricultural intermediaries, including extension agents, input dealers and output dealers, perform important functions in the African agriculture sector. D4Ag solutions that integrate intermediaries into their design could help improve rather than replace intermediaries’ service delivery while capitalizing on their networks and trust relationships to engage small-scale producers in digital service provision. At the same time, D4Ag solutions could offer safeguards that protect the interests of intermediaries’ clients against exploitation.

The policy brief is based on the study: Baumüller et al. (2022). Documenting the digital transformation of African agriculture: Use and impact of digital technologies among agricultural intermediaries. ZEF Working Paper 214.