In brief

In brief

  • This research looks at agriculture’s contribution to South Africa’s GDP and the need to improve sector performance.
  • The adoption of four digital agri-technologies can unlock significant value.
  • The unparalleled opportunity for value creation that digital technologies offer and the steps needed to take.

Agriculture’s contribution to South Africa’s GDP is declining. Improving sector performance is critical to feed a growing population, help sustain rural communities through agri-sector employment, increase food security and to support economic growth. Accenture (NYSE: ACN) research shows that the adoption of digital agri-technologies can unlock significant value for the South African agriculture sector, consumers and society—R671 billion by 2026!

A value-at-stake framework developed by Accenture and the World Economic Forum (WEF), along with additional analysis based on local statistics, research and expert interviews, identifies the adoption of four digital agriculture technologies—precision agriculture, a connected supply chain, digital marketplace and autonomous operations—as central to securing this value.

These technologies can help address many of the key challenges facing this sector, from high input costs, to low access to information and credit, declining productivity and an inability to provide product traceability. More importantly, the adoption of these technologies could help South Africa create a thriving, sustainable, modern agriculture value chain built for digital.

The value that digital adds

Use and application of digital technologies in the agricultural sector have advanced rapidly, with stakeholders across the agricultural value chain, from equipment and seed suppliers to insurers, finding ways to add value to their services and to the improve outcomes for their customers and partners. What is important to note is that that value increases exponentially for stakeholders, reaching up and down the value chain as it becomes more connected.

The agricultural value chain typically comprises five phases, namely input, production, processing, distribution and purchasing. A digital marketplace adds value along the entire value chain. In the production and processing phases, precision agriculture and autonomous operations add value. In the distribution phase, a connected supply chain comes into its own.

A strategic response is needed to put in place the technology foundations—and consistent regional policy—necessary to create a productive, competitive, digital-age agriculture sector in South Africa.

All stakeholders in this sector have a role to play to drive awareness and put in place the infrastructure, standards and policies needed to drive the adoption of the identified digital initiatives.

In our report, Unlocking Digital Value in South Africa’s Agriculture Industry, we:

  • Outline the case for change, detailing the challenges the agriculture faces at present.
  • Highlight the digital technologies that have the potential to help resolve these challenges and it
  • Identify the value that each digital solution presents along with the practical implications of implementation.

For more insight, click through to the report.


The Accenture and WEF value-at-stake framework assesses the impact of digital initiatives (from driverless cars and predictive analytics to drones and remote healthcare) on industries, consumers, society and the environment over the decade to 2026. In the assessment of industries, the framework integrates all segments of an industry's value chain, capturing approximately 80 percent of revenues and profits. It considers the total addressable market and the adoption or penetration rates of new technologies over time, and is based on research, industry reports, existing use cases and expert interviews. The framework also quantifies Digital Value to Society by aggregating the key performance indicators that measure the impact of digitalisation on health and safety, employment, the environment, labour and consumers. Additional Accenture research, based on expert interviews, local statistics, and other inputs, quantifies the value at stake in South Africa and identifies the key digital technologies and initiatives across industry sectors and government services that can unlock that value.

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