The African continent faces challenges in accessing cutting-edge technology, which is exemplified by the difficulty of the agriculture sector in integrating into global networks. The agriculture of Africa, led by smallholder farmers, has yet to be assimilated into digital fluxes, an issue that hinders the use of new applications and services to boost productivity. The connection between suppliers, producers, distributors and consumers lacks dynamism, creating unnecessary gaps in the entire value chain, a situation that can be addressed by the establishment of an interconnected network of good practices and solutions.
Towards a Solution
The IFAD initiative Rural Solutions Portal and IT Tracking Systems has an overall objective of improving, developing and ultimately strengthening a rural solutions portal, that is, a web-based portal that collects and makes available innovative rural development solutions. The portal integrated the IFAD South-South and triangular cooperation tracking systems with a view to increasing the uptake of rural development solutions and improving the living conditions of the population in target countries. Specifically, the Rural Solutions Portal seeks good practices that are: (a) rural, that is, focused on solving specific problems of the rural space and aimed at reaching the smallholder farmer, the rural small business or the fisher folk; (b) reliable, that is, having been tried and tested, producing good results, or an innovative solution with clear expected results; and (c) replicable, that is, easily used by other rural people in similar situations in different locations.
The IFAD Rural Solutions Portal involves the exchange of information and knowledge between countries that face similar challenges in the agricultural field, facilitating the use of new technologies and the creation of solutions, with the potential to boost productivity in the food sector on a global scale. The methodology for reaching this goal involves the connection between the South-South and triangular cooperation centres in Addis Ababa, Beijing and Brasilia and, through the development of a shared database and dashboard, the exchange of information and knowledge with similar web-based information platforms. The IFAD efforts to strengthen the Rural Solutions Portal initiative include multiple agreements with bilateral partners, such as the IFAD-China South-South Cooperation Facility, for the portal to extend its reach and broaden its range, cataloguing more good practices, promoting their uptake in different contexts and monitoring their results on a greater scale.
Within the context of an international web portal, this initiative entails the cross-country exchange of information and knowledge. and The shared solutions are concrete initiatives, which solve specific development challenges to the promotion of sustainable and inclusive rural transformation. The IFAD Rural Solutions Portal will thus help rural people and organizations in developing countries to identify opportunities for replicating such solutions in their own development context in an easier, more integrated fashion to achieve better livelihoods. With strengthening efforts, the portal went from 31 solutions in 2018 to a total of 46 in 2020, with 9 of them having a global effect. In addition, IFAD and its regional centres are working with local governments and authorities to see if the portal can be translated into national and local languages, making the dialogue on challenges and solutions even easier.
Managed by IFAD, the Rural Solutions Portal and its improvement activities are not components of the national agendas of any countries. Nonetheless, it is aligned with many South-South cooperation principles, the SDGs and the IFAD Strategic Framework 2016–2025, an aspect that creates a sense of guidelines for the activities of the fund in general and the solutions portal specifically. This effort is sustainable owing to the engagement of governments, business experts and technicians in its overall scope since the strengthening of the web-based system is carried out in a constructive manner, with all solutions included after careful review from specialists in agriculture and rural development.