Microsoft held a virtual meeting to discuss how digitisation in agriculture can help make sure there is enough food for everyone in Africa.
As agriculture provides up to seventy per cent of Africa’s income, Microsoft is collaborating with private sector partners and the government to provide a connected, precise and data-enabled farming that maximises yields and increases farm profitability and productivity.
Ola Williams, who is the Microsoft Country Manager for Nigeria, led the conversation with an associate from the Nigeria Incentive-based Risk Sharing System for Agriculture and Alliance for a Green Revolution (AGRA)
The talk was about how agrotechnology is altering results for farmers all over the continent by making them more productive and giving them farming tips and access to the most current information.
Africa’s agricultural sector is expected to grow exponentially in the next ten years. By 2030, it is expected to be worth $1 trillion.
Digitalised agriculture solutions also saw explosive growth on the continent, and the region is well-positioned to become the agritech solutions hub of the world.Last year, agriculture made up 22.35 per cent of Nigeria’s total gross domestic product. More than seventy per cent of Nigerians worked in agriculture, mostly to get by.
As the government of Nigeria works to diversify its sources of revenue and wean itself off of its reliance on oil, it is now increasingly important to investigate other alternatives to making agriculture more lucrative to motivate more businesspeople to see farming as a possible means of earning a living.
One way that agritech altered the appearance of farming is by making information more accessible to everyone.Agriculture was the primary source of jobs in Nigeria, but it hasn’t gotten much attention since the oil boom’s end.
Agriculture is becoming more important as the Nigerian government works hard to diversify its economy and move away from relying on oi, its only source of income. The lack of supply chain links and value addition is one of the problems Nigerian agriculture has to deal with.
By coming up with new solutions to these problems, farmers will be able to reach the market faster and have a chance to expand their businesses on a large scale.
Partnerships are needed to make the platforms easier to use and help farmers better access technology, especially those in rural areas. This will facilitate farmers in embracing technology.
Microsoft held an Agro Innovate Hackathon in conjunction with the NIRSAL and other multinational corporations with operations in Nigeria to address these challenges.
Both NIRSAL and Microsoft think that the answer to the majority of these problems can be found within the technological ecosystem of Nigeria.
This project aims to create a portal that allows customers and farmers to link up to conduct business, connect to the internet, and increase the farmers’ profitability and economic power.
They aim to educate thirty thousand farmers on the platform’s usage and enrol ten thousand farmers on it in its first year. The Hackathon will result in the creation of 3 winning local agritech startups, and these startups will be nurtured by NIRSAL and Microsoft’s Africa Transformation Office.
Agro Innovate Hackathon would create jobs in the agricultural production sector and help the government’s plan to diversify the economy. At the same time, it will allow Nigeria’s brightest and best minds to start businesses that Microsoft will help grow. This is a chance to give farmers easy access to a platform and bring consumers and farmers closer together, Dr Usman Gambo Abdullahi, Director of IT Infrastructure Solutions at NITDA, said.
Working with AGRA
Microsoft said recently that it would keep working with AGRA. In the next partnership stage, digital technology and innovation will be used to connect agriculture ecosystems in a sustainable way that benefits the strategic value chain.
Partnering with AGRA is part of Microsoft’s current investment in agric technology in Africa. We do this to help the sector move toward digital transformation.”We’re happy to continue creating localised technological solutions that meet the needs of local farmers and have a real impact.”Ola Williams, Country Manager at Microsoft Nigeria, said.
The partnership between AGRA and Microsoft has enabled the companies to investigate the potential applications of artificial intelligence and big data in the context of facilitating precision,data-driven farming and can help farms be more profitable and productive.
We at AGRA quickly discovered that the application of digitalisation is essential to the elimination of poverty and improvement of food security in Africa. “Our collaboration with Microsoft will help SMEs, farmers and governments by supplying the needed digital tool for building sustainable food systems.”AGRA Kenya’s Lead Program Officer, John Macharia said.
Microsoft is determined to invest in agric tech in Africa. Their goal is to create agric tech that allows for precise, connected and data-driven farming that increases yields, improves farm production, and makes farming more profitable.
As Williams draws to a close, he explains that “they know that a single company would not fix these key issues, but rather via partnerships with both our partner in Government and private sector for maximum effect and benefit farmers in Africa.”