Digital agriculture and pathways out of poverty: the need for appropriate design, targeting, and scaling
Digital technologies range from ‘low-tech’ tools such as mobile phones and computers to more ‘high-tech’ solutions such as blockchain, Internet of Things (IoT), and artificial intelligence. Digital technologies can help smallholder farmers increase their yields and incomes if they are effectively targeted to facilitate agriculture as a ‘pathway out of poverty’. For digital agriculture to deliver on its promise, it is critical not only to design digital agriculture interventions that consider the target populations’ needs, constraints, and appropriateness, but also to ensure that digital technologies do not exacerbate social and economic inequalities. Cognizance of these risks is essential if practitioners are to ensure that digital agriculture fulfils its potential and makes significant contributions to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). We use the example of a digital agriculture decision support tool, Rice Crop Manager (RCM), to illustrate the challenges of designing, targeting, and scaling digital tools to support rural development.