Microsoft is investing in quite a number of agri-tech partnerships, and with good reason. One, technology can and does improve just about everything it touches and agriculture is no exception. Two, food security is not just a buzz-word but an important part of every nation’s agenda and agri-tech is pretty much the way to go to maximize this. There are food deficits in an uncomfortably high number of countries in Africa due to different factors and these countries need not only to fix this problem but push boundaries as well.
It is this that informs Microsoft’s ongoing investment in this field by supporting start-ups as well as expanding existing ones. The tech giant for example has supported a number of African agri-tech start-ups and companies, including SunCulture, Virtual City, N-Frnds and Twiga Foods, and has also been in partnership to expand FarmBeats.
In addition to these, Microsoft has now entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) to co-create technology solutions in agriculture. AGRA which was founded in 2006 is an African-led African-based organization that seeks to transforming smallholder agriculture into a productive, efficient, and sustainable system is essential to ensuring food security, lifting millions out of poverty, and driving equitable growth across the continent.
Through its 4Afrika initiative, Microsoft will support AGRA’s digital transformation as it works to improve food security for 30 million farming households across 11 countries by 2021. The MOU aims to encourage the use of big data and AI in the digital transformation of AGRA, working with the Kenyan government and expanding to Nigeria, Rwanda, Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi and Ethiopia.
Microsoft and AGRA are also partnering with the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives (MoALFC) to significantly accelerate the transformation of the agriculture ecosystem in line with the recently launched Agricultural Sector Transformation and Growth Strategy (ASTGS) for digitisation.