Malawi Digital Agriculture Ecosystem Assessment

Digital agriculture technologies (DATs) have the potential to address the challenges facing the agriculture sector in Malawi by transforming how agri-food actors access information, goods, and services. DATs consist of advanced digital innovations that enable smallholder farmers, agribusinesses, governments, and development partners to in­crease their productivity, efficiency, and competitiveness, thereby contributing to improved agricultural outcomes. Technologies such as mobile phones, drone and satellite imagery, moisture sensors, geographic information sys­tem (GIS), internet of things (IoT), and machine learning are playing a critical role in the agriculture sector enabling the actors to address key challenges along the value chains.

DATs present immense advantages and opportunities to advance the development of the agriculture sector. DATs can be applicable across several use cases. First, DATs help farmers to make more informed production decisions through accurate, timely, and location-specific, weather, and agronomic data advisory. Second, DATs reduce infor­mation asymmetry across the value chain enabling farmers to access timely information on prices and markets and directly engage with the buyers. Third, DATs streamline supply chains and reduce operating costs across value chains.

The growth, scale-up, and sustainability of DATs is highly dependent on an enabling ecosystem including the avail­ability and accessibility of the foundational digital infrastructure and digital skills. This study, commissioned by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through DAI seeks to assess the digital agriculture ecosystem in Malawi to identify challenges and opportunities to inform USAID/Malawi Mission’s current and fu­ture programming. The key objectives of the study include:

  1. Undertake a stakeholder mapping of the relevant actors within the digital agriculture ecosystem in Malawi, with a particular focus on local actors.
  2. Identify key challenges and opportunities to leverage digital technologies more effectively in the agriculture and allied sectors among stakeholders in Malawi, consistent with USAID/Malawi’s priorities.
  3. Identify key challenges and opportunities specific to Malawian women and youth in agriculture and aligned sectors concerning digital agriculture.
  4. Evaluate macro-level quantitative and qualitative data and develop recommendations to promote growth of DATs in the country.

This study was commissioned by the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Bureau for Resilience and Food Security on behalf of the USAID/Malawi Mission and conducted under the DAI-led Digital Frontiers project. The report was authored by Intellecap with support from UMODZI Consulting Ltd