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Will Digital Technologies Transform Agriculture in Developing Countries

The paper reviews the recent literature on corresponding technology impacts in the rural sector in developing countries. Digital technologies overcome information problems that hinder market access for many small-scale farmers, increase knowledge through new ways of providing extension services, and they provide novel ways for improving agricultural supply chain management.

Although there are many promising examples of positive impacts on rural livelihoods – or “digital dividends”– often these have not scaled up to the extent expected. The main reason is that technology can only address some, but not all, of the barriers faced by farmers in the poorer countries.

This paper is a product of the 2016 World Development Report Team and the Environment and Energy Team, Development Research Group. It is part of a larger effort by the World Bank to provide open access to its research and make a contribution to development policy discussions around the world.