30m households to gain from smart farming plan

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Microsoft has signed a partnership with Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (Agra) to co-create technology solutions that will see 30 million farming households enjoy food security and improve agribusiness.

The deal through Microsoft’s 4Afrika initiative will support Agra’s digital transformation targeting households across 11 countries by 2021 though their grantees.

Some of the Agra grantees include the National Potato Council of Kenya (NPCK), East Africa Farmers Federation (EAFF), East African Grain Council (EAGC), Amtech Technologies and the Local Development Research Institute (LDRI) and supported SMEs.

The collaboration aims to encourage the use of big data and Artificial Intelligence in the digital transformation of Agra, working with the Kenyan government and expanding to Nigeria, Rwanda, Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi and Ethiopia.

The partnership will also provide skill development at Agra, helping struggling smallholder farmers thrive in the business.

“We very much appreciate the opportunity to draw on Microsoft’s digital architecture support on digital ecosystems and big data platforms,” said Vanessa Adams, Vice President, Strategic Partnerships and Chief of Party at Agra.

The company has played a major role in supporting several African agri-tech start-ups and companies, including SunCulture, Virtual City, N-Frnds and Twiga Foods in order to leverage the Africa’s fast growing market estimated to have a turnover of up to $250 billion per year.

Last year, Agra provided a maximum of $150,000 in funding over two years allowing to improve, production, distribution of certified seed, grantee adoption of crop varieties among poor, small scale farmers , seed companies, public research and extension services.

The partnership forms part of Microsoft’s ongoing investment in agri-tech across the continent, including the expansion of FarmBeats, a data-driven farming project designed to help increase farm productivity and reduce costs.

Microsoft and Agra are also partnering with the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives to significantly accelerate the transformation of the agriculture ecosystem in line with the recently launched Agricultural Sector Transformation and Growth Strategy for digitisation.

“We’re excited to continue our work with Agra in building locally-relevant technology solutions that are mindful of challenges local farmers face, offering solutions to farmers and policy makers alike to deliver meaningful impact,” Microsoft 4Afrika Regional Director, Amrote Abdella said.