Microsoft is set to solve Africa’s food security challenges by enabling digital transformation in agriculture that will help farmers take advantage of modern technology tools to boost food productivity.
Microsoft made the disclosure on Wednesday, when it hosted a virtual roundtable panel discussion about digital transformation in agriculture for food security in Africa.
The roundtable explored how accelerating digital transformation in agriculture is leading to agritech developments that have a tangible positive impact on food security in Africa.
With agriculture sustaining up to 70 per cent of Africa’s livelihoods, Microsoft is working with government and private sector partners to enable data-driven, precision and connected farming that optimises yields and boosts farm productivity and profitability.
Microsoft’s initiative to enhance food security, is in line with the Nigerian government’s initiative to diversify her economy and move away from the dependence on oil, to agriculture and technology to boost wealth and job creation.
The virtual roundtable discussion was led by Microsoft Nigeria Country Manager, Ola Williams, and was joined by partners from the Alliance for a Green Revolution (AGRA) and the Nigeria Incentive-based Risk Sharing System for Agriculture (NIRSAL).
The discussion explored the ways in which agritech is changing outcomes for farmers across the continent, unlocking productivity and helping farmers access the latest information and farming advice.
Some of the challenges agriculture faces in Nigeria is the absence of value addition and supply chain linkages. During the panel discussion, panelists were of the view that innovating in these areas of challenges would empower farmers to gain faster access to the market and provide them with an opportunity to grow their businesses at scale. To help farmers adopt technology, partnerships are needed to simplify platforms and provide access to technology, particularly for rural farmers, the panelists said.
To meet these challenges, Microsoft, in partnership with the Nigeria Incentive-based Risk Sharing System for Agriculture (NIRSAL) and multi-national companies operating in the country, hosted an Agro Innovate Hackathon. Microsoft and NIRSAL believe that within the Nigeria tech eco system lies the solution to solve most of these challenges. The goal is to create a portal solution where farmers and customers can connect to conduct business, access the internet, and where farmers can gain economic power and improve their profitability. The Hackathon will produce three winning local agritech startups who will be nurtured through Microsoft’s Africa Transformation Office and NIRSAL, and the intention is to train 30,000 farmers on the use of the platform, enrolling 10,000 farmers on the platform in the first year.
Director, Information Technology Infrastructure Solutions, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Dr. Usman Gambo Abdullahi, said: “The Agro Innovate Hackathon will provide livelihood opportunities in the agriculture sector and contribute to the government’s economic diversification agenda while simultaneously offering our brightest young Nigerian minds the chance to launch start-up ventures that will be nurtured by Microsoft. This is an opportunity to make a platform widely accessible to farmers and bridge the gap between farmers and consumers.”