Microsoft is looking to collaborate with the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) to co-create technology solutions in agriculture through its 4Afrika Initiative. The collaboration will support AGRA’s digital transformation as it works to improve food security for 30m farming households across 11 countries, including Ghana, by 2021.
This was announced at the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) held in Accra last month. Through the partnership, Microsoft and AGRA will explore uses of big data and artificial intelligence in enabling data-driven, precision farming that increases farm productivity and profitability.
It will also support farmers in adopting new technologies through digital training content, develop digital skills in agriculture through an internship program and support policy advocacy and government engagement around the design of national agriculture digitization strategies
This partnership forms part of Microsoft’s ongoing investment in agritech across the continent. Amrote Abdella, Regional Director of Microsoft 4Afrika said Agriculture is a priority sector of investment for the company, not only because it sustains 70% of livelihoods, but because technology can significantly contribute to the transformation of the sector.
In a released media statement she further explained that since Africa has a large number of farmers with varying farming practices, technology can augment this knowledge to improve crop yields. She also mentioned the use of Microsoft-enabled IoT technology, organizations like SunCulture, which have helped farmers increase crop yields by 300%, while increasing income for farmers.
According to AGRA, the biggest hurdle to increasing farmer productivity in Africa today is the continued use of outdated production technologies and practices. Farmers are only likely to adopt new technologies when they are useful, affordable and available locally.
As a result, the digitalization of African Agriculture Report found that 90% of the market for digital services that support African smallholders remains untapped, and could be worth more than US $2.26Bn.