A huge percentage of African households rely solely on agricultural income. Around 70% actually. And Agriculture has always been reliable in feeding Africa’s people and affording them some extra income. It is therefore an area that needs massive investment and one that should not be left behind in terms of technology and digitization. This is one sector that will spur assured growth if effort is put into it and it is good to note that financial technology companies have not left it behind.
Take Microsoft for example. The global tech giant has continued to support digitization in different sectors year-on-year, with agriculture being one among the top. Microsoft does this by building partnerships with leaders in different industries and governmental and non-governmental organizations, and helping to build skills in agri-tech and the sector at large.
The results of this continued investment are evident in the number of agri-tech start ups increasing by 110 percent in the past two years. Furthermore, according to World Bank estimates, food production and processing in Africa currently generates over $300 billion annually, but that figure could rise to $1 trillion a year by 2030 if farmers are given the right access to inputs and resources.
Speaking at a round table that Microsoft held yesterday, Amrote Abdella, Regional Director at Microsoft 4Afrika noted that a long-term approach is key to enabling lasting change and impact in the sector. The purpose of the virtual roundtable was to draw attention to and create awareness around an industry that is vital for the survival of humanity.
“With the sector sustaining 70 percent of Africa’s livelihoods, we’ve taken the lead to develop a data-driven, connected farming that optimises yields, boosts farm productivity and increases profitability. Leveraging our extensive partnerships and initiatives network, we are committed to ensuring that all farming communities are equipped with the latest tools like AI, IoT and edge computing to improve productivity and sustainability across the sector,” Amrote Abdella
Microsoft has worked with various partners and customers across the region to realise this strategy and ensure access to the solutions developed. One such partnership is with Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), Microsoft is exploring the use of big data and artificial intelligence in enabling data-driven, precision farming to support and increase farm productivity and profitability.
Another partner is SunCulture which helps farmers improve their crop yields through solar-powered irrigation systems. Using IoT technology, SunCulture customers are generating 10x more annual income, experiencing a
Yet another example from Kenya is Twiga Foods , a mobile-based business-to-business food supply platform, links smallholder farmers in rural Kenya to informal retail vendors in cities. With Twiga’s mobile platform, vendors can order fresh produce from farmers across Kenya at competitive prices. Twiga is driving microfinancing for smallholder farmers in Kenya, by creating credit history through goods transactions powered by Microsoft cloud solution. It currently benefits 8,000 farmers and 15,000 vendors.