AFRICA – Microsoft through its business and market development engine in Africa 4Afrika has partnered with the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) to co-create technology solutions in agriculture.

AGRA is a dynamic, African-led partnership working across the African continent to help millions of small-scale farmers and their families lift themselves out of poverty and hunger through practical solutions.

The partnership with the technology giant will explore uses of Microsoft’s FarmBeats system in enabling data-driven, precision farming that increases farm productivity and profitability.

FarmBeats is an end-to-end AI and IoT system for agriculture that helps farmers in getting data and enable precision agriculture techniques

It makes use of sensors, cameras and UAVs (Unmanned aerial vehicles) to produce actionable insights for farmers.

The system can extend Internet coverage to the farm and is resilient towards weather related issues, outages or power variability which have been issues that have always hindered African farmers from using technology in their operations.

To ensure farmers adopt the new technologies, they will undertake digital training and develop the needed skills in agriculture through an internship program.

This is in line with AGRA’s digital transformation efforts as it works to improve food security for 30 million farming households across 11 countries by 2021.

The project will be implanted in Ghana, Nigeria, Mali, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Malawi and Mozambique reports MCGH.

Microsoft 4Afrika Regional Director Amrote Abdella noted that continued use of outdated technologies and practices is the biggest hurdle to increasing farmer productivity in Africa.

Microsoft will therefore work with AGRA to build locally relevant technology solutions that are mindful of challenges local farmers face.

The partnership is part of Microsoft’s ongoing investment in agritech across Africa. This year the company introduced a US$100m Africa Development Centre investment with sites in Lagos, Nigeria and Nairobi, Kenya.

The centre according to Microsoft will help to advance AI innovation in agriculture.

Microsoft has been supporting several African agritech start-ups and companies, including Sun Culture, Virtual City, N-Frnds and Twiga Foods.

“Agriculture is a priority sector of investment for us, not only because it sustains some 70 per cent of livelihoods, but because we believe technology can significantly contribute to the transformation of the sector,” says Amrote Abdella.