Accepted paper:

The influence of agro-digital platforms on agricultural development in the Global South: towards a conceptual framework


Bookie Ezeomah (University of Manchester)
Richard Duncombe (University of Manchester)

Paper short abstract:

This paper investigates how the introduction of digital platforms is influencing agricultural value chains in the Global South. Employing an institutional framework, evidenced with new data from Nigeria the paper demonstrates how these new innovations are transforming traditional institutions.

Paper long abstract:

This paper contributes to emerging research on the design, implementation and impact of digital platforms in the Global South. Building on ongoing endeavors to understand current and future use of digital platforms, this conceptual paper aims to investigate how the introduction of digital platforms is influencing agricultural development in the Global South. The investigation builds upon a conceptual basis that provides an institutional understanding of digital platform innovation within agricultural value chains, taking account the need for low cost 'frugal' solutions in resource poor environments. A conceptual framework is evidenced with data from Nigeria which demonstrates innovations being mainstreamed into agricultural value chains, showing how the institutional basis for agricultural development is both changing and transforming, and the attendant positive and negative outcomes for actors within these value chains. Institutional theory represents the core concept that shapes our understanding of the extent to which digital platforms are becoming embedded within the workings of the existing value chain, or lead to the breakdown of traditional value chain practices. A value chain model is used to map out the institutions that govern agricultural processes, identifying where institutions are weak or non-existent, and which institutions are enabled or disabled by the advent of digital platforms. The socio-economic context for the research is one of innovation amidst financial, infrastructural, social and technological constraints and a pre-existing weak institutional environment. The main contribution of this paper is a new conceptual approach to guide further research on digital platforms and agricultural development in the Global South.

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