Senior Business Reporter
Fast-paced digitisation has changed the dynamics of numerous businesses and economic sectors, but the adoption of new technology can also be game-changer for humankind’s oldest economic activity — agriculture.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) projects that “agriculture is expected to be a trillion-dollar market by 2030, ripe for innovation that will drive greater efficiency, sustainable increases in productivity, yield and income”.
Zimbabwe is still largely agro-based, and stands to be benefit from efficiencies in the sector.
According to data from FAO, agricultural activities in Zimbabwe provide employment and income for 60 percent to 70 percent of the population.
It also supplies 60 percent of the raw materials required by industry and contributes 40 percent of total export earnings.
The sector also contributes approximately 17 percent to Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
In a move that seeks to drive digitally-enabled agricultural transformation, Zimbabwe’s Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA) is launching an online permit application system.
This is a culmination of an ongoing extensive role transformation for the Authority from being a collector of levies to a driver of innovation within the agricultural sector, which started last year.
The development confirms AMA’s new orientation towards innovation and investing in the creation of platforms that facilitate ease of doing business to stakeholders.
Through the new digital platform, customers can apply and receive electronic permits easily, irrespective of time or location.
This furthers the authority’s aim of strengthening service to stakeholders and helping them face challenging situations like those brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.
AMA chief executive officer Mr Clever Isaya said the creation of an online permit application system aligns with Government’s modernisation thrust and is instrumental towards achieving Vision 2030.
“We are committed to helping our stakeholders with digital solutions so that they are successful in their agricultural endeavours,” he said.
“Our goal is to accelerate the growth of the agriculture sector and help it thrive by delivering value to our stakeholders and being responsive to problems bedevilling agriculture markets as spelled out in the Agriculture and Food Systems Transformation Strategy.”
Accessible through the AMA website, the system is linked to relevant Government departments and agencies for verification and security purposes.
And the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement has been allocated a unique link to access the platform and check validity for all issued permits against issued customers’ permit numbers.
FAO has highlighted the benefits of digitalisation in agriculture.
“In agriculture, digitalisation could be a game-changer in boosting productivity, profitability and resilience to climate change. An inclusive, digitally-enabled agricultural transformation could help achieve meaningful livelihood improvements for Africa’s smallholder farmers and pastoralists.
“It could drive greater engagement in agriculture from women and youth and create employment opportunities along the value chain,” said FAO.
Meanwhile, with regards to its long-term strategy, AMA will roll out several tech solutions this year to enable creation of new markets, orderly marketing of agricultural products and enhancement of productivity in contribution to the attainment of a middle-income economy by 2030.
AMA regulates participation in the production, buying or processing of any agricultural product by producers, buyers or processors or classes of producers, buyers or processors of any agricultural product upon such terms and conditions, including, as appropriate, the fixing of quotas, as may be prescribed.