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Data drives agri in Africa

African farmers are at the heart of tomorrow’s global economy

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The potential to increase Africa’s agricultural yields through the strategic use of data could place the continents’ farmers at the heart of tomorrow’s global economy.

“New technologies readily available to Africa’s farmers mean that the continent is finally at the moment where Africa’s vast, as-yet-unrealised, agricultural opportunity can be made relevant to capital, mechanisation and new global markets,” says Antois van der Westhuizen, managing director for Sub Saharan Africa at John Deere Financial.

John Deere has worked with ACDI/Voca, ADVANCE and USAID as well as other input providers in Ghana, to mechanise and provide fertiliser and seeds to demonstration farms aimed at improving the yield of traditional famers in the country. 

“The results have been astounding,” says van der Westhuizen. In some cases, “yields have increased sevenfold.”

This confirms that, if farmers are able to access mechanisation, fertiliser and seed and are then guided to apply these correctly, they can dramatically increase their yields. 

What has changed is that today farmers in Kenya and Tanzania, transacting on M-PESA, can access the formal economy by selling and buying goods online. Since these previously economically excluded farmers now have a digital footprint, “we can start getting a picture of their inputs, suppliers and costs, as well as their yields, off-takers, incomes and payments histories,” says van der Westhuizen.

This data holds the key to revolutionising agriculture in Africa.  

“Without even having a bank account, we now have a detailed view of the input, production and earning numbers of previously financially invisible farmers,” says van der Westhuizen.”   With GPS technology able to provide accurate hectarage, we can now quickly work out how certain inputs, and their cost, might be affordable to specific farmers given the increase in yield that we know these inputs will drive in that location.” 

In short, with just a handful of data points, the ability to provide credit to a much broader segment of Africa’s farmers increases dramatically. For the first time in history all of Africa’s famers are now potentially able to present the credit, expenditure, production and income records to make them bankable.   

“The next step will be to use the data from multiple farmers collectively, to develop new supply chains and markets.”

For example, if a grain mill in Kenya requires 2000 tons of a certain crop each month and John Deere has the data on 100 farmers in that district each with the potential to produce 20 tons a month, the data can be used to build a supply chain for the mill that also provides the farmers guaranteed off-take. 

This data-driven view of the broader supply chain also gives John Deere Financial and other financiers the confidence to extend credit, long-lease machinery or fertilizer to these farmers, secure in the knowledge that the farmers will receive an income from the mill and be able to pay.

“Moreover, if we know that the 100 farmers have secure off-take agreements with a local mill, we can provide tractors or harvesters to start-up agricultural service companies to plough these farmer’s fields and harvest their crops, only collecting payment once the farmers have been paid by the mill,” says van der Westhuizen.

Using data in this way could justify further investment in irrigation systems, beneficiation plants, canneries or other industrial investment relevant to expanding the agricultural value chain. 

Taken to scale across Africa, this kind of data has the potential to make most African countries food secure, freeing up the billions in hard currency that African governments currently spend importing food. This would, ease Africa’s endemic hard currency crunches and reduce sovereign debt – releasing resources for development, infrastructure or education.

This is all taking place in a global context in which, over time, the value of agricultural goods, especially food, is likely to increase relative to industrial products.

“African policy makers struggling to replicate the industrially-driven growth successes of many post-World War II developing economies, would do well to re-consider the vast export and development potential presented by agriculture in a food-scare and largely already industrialised world,” says van der Westhuizen.

In short, agriculture, today seen as the low road to growth and development will, in time, become the source of the world’s most valuable asset, namely, food.  

“Fortunately, the technology is finally here, for Africa’s policy makers to use the new data available on Africa’s farmers to place agriculture – and Africa – at the heart of tomorrows global economy.”

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Projection tech transforms retail

By TIMOTHY WILSON, visual imaging business account manager at Epson South Africa

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Display designs, such as those found in retail stores, are no longer confined to static visuals on pull-up banners, 2D print and posters. The increasingly popular use of projection technology has ushered in new and exciting ways to create immersive displays using rich media and high-quality visual content to go beyond the four walls of traditional marketing.

In the past, projectors were lamp-based and prone to failure when used in a harsh environment, such as a retail store. Today, newly introduced laser projection technology has unlocked a range of capabilities.

Transforming the way brands engage with audiences

Creative techniques such as projection mapping, which can be described as the projection of video, animation and other colourful displays onto 3D surfaces, have completely transformed the way brands engage with audiences and can live in retail spaces, concert halls and even sports stadiums.

Projection mapping offers venues wide-spread creativity in using lighting in small or large environments, as was the case with Epson’s showstopping kinetic portal, which implemented projection mapping on a 360 degree vortex at the largest AV and systems integration show in the world – Integrated Systems Europe 2019. Driven by a new, affordable generation of projectors, mapping not only covers flat walls and traditional projections screens but also irregular shapes, objects, and even entire building façades.

When projecting on a larger scale, such as at events and music concerts, the process of visually combining several projectors to display one single seamless image might sound simple enough in principle but can prove to be a challenging task in reality. To overcome this challenge, experiential marketers are adopting the use of image edge blending, which refers to the process of stacking multiple projectors to create a single overlapped projection that appears continuous and clear.

It’s due to these advancements that displays in retail and events no longer pivot just on aesthetic appeal but can now deliver immersive consumer experiences that drive engagement and increase foot traffic. This is starting to drastically change the way that retailers, events and even restaurants host, engage, entertain and communicate with their audiences.

Projection is driving growth in experiential marketing

Consumer interest in the transition towards projection has seen this technology take centre stage at leading retailers such as Mall of Africa, events by brands such as ABSA and restaurants like Saint, transforming their environments into immersive spaces through projection that displays captivating imagery and video.

Saint restaurant in Sandton has pushed the boundaries of branding and displays, transforming all surfaces into a visual delight. Patrons entering the restaurant are greeted by a visual experience within a dome, featuring a series of moving, constantly changing artworks – such as a starry night sky or a replica of the Sistine Chapel – projected onto walls and the ceiling.

In fact, EventTrack research, which showcases the current state of marketing around the globe, highlights the continuous growth of event and experiential marketing. It notes that high-quality projection technology, more specifically its ability to emit stunning visual experiences, has grown in popularity to become the go-to tool for event organisers and retailers looking to captivate and engage with consumers.

The future of projection technology

Projection technology has proven to be an outstanding, much more cost-effective and reliable form of marketing collateral – setting an entirely new standard for high-resolution projection.

Sandton City recently embraced this market-leading technology with the installation of a virtual aquarium in its Centre Court. This installation centred on creating a 3D mapping concept that enabled shoppers to select an undersea creature from a touchpad to swim across digitised hoarding.

With capabilities to meet the demands of large-scale projection and the ability to effectively transform the way brands remain visible at shopping malls, restaurants and retail spaces – the unprecedented imaging power of projection technology has set a considerably high bar when it comes to retail and event displays. 

Epson, which is not only pioneering imaging technology and innovative projection solutions, is also the market leader when it comes to high lumen laser projection, having recently announced its 30,000 lumens laser projector (EB-L30000U) which will officially launch in 2020. This high-end installation laser projector, complete with 4K enhancement, is aimed at rental and staging companies, hospitality markets and visitor attractions, which is yet another progressive step towards transforming the way marketers engage with their consumers in the 21st century. 

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GoFundMe hits R9bn in donations for people and causes

The world’s largest social fundraising platform has announced that Its community has made more than 120-million donations

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GoFundMe this week released its annual Year in Giving report, revealing that its community has donated more than 120-million times, raising over $9-billion for people, causes, and organisations since the company’s founding in 2010.

In a letter to the GoFundMe community, CEO Rob Solomon emphasised how GoFundMe witnesses not only the good in people worldwide, but their generosity and their action every day.

“As we enter a new decade, GoFundMe is committed to spreading compassion and empathy through our platform,” said Solomon in the letter. “Together, we can bring more good into the world and unlock the power of global giving.”

The GoFundMe giving community continues to grow with both repeat donors and new donors. In fact, nearly 60% of donors were new this year. After someone makes a donation, they continue to engage with the community and give to multiple causes. In fact, one passionate individual donated 293 times to 234 different fundraisers in this past year alone. Donations are made every second, ranging from $5 to $50,000. This year, more than 40% of donations were under $50.

GoFundMe continues to be a mirror of current events across the globe. This year, young changemakers started the Fridays for Futuremovement to fight climate change, which led to a 60% increase in fundraiser descriptions mentioning ‘climate change’. Additionally, the community rallied together to support one another during natural disasters like Hurricane Dorian and the California wildfires, where thousands of fundraisers were started to help those in need.

The report includes a snapshot of giving trends from the year based on global GoFundMe data. It also includes company milestones from 2019, such as launching the company’s non-profit and advocacy arm, GoFundMe.org, and introducing GoFundMe Charity, which provides enterprise software with no subscription fees or contracts to charities of every size.

Highlights from GoFundMe’s 2019 Year in Giving report include:

  • Global giving trends and data
  • Top 10 most generous countries
  • Top 10 most generous U.S. states and cities
  • Biggest moments in 2019

To view the entire report, visit: www.gofundme.com/2019

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