Microsoft partners with AGRA to digitize agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa

AFRICA – US software giant Microsoft has entered a Memorandum of Understanding with the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) to co-create technology solutions in agriculture in Africa.

The collaboration, through Microsoft’s 4Afrika initiative, 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.

The partnership will also provide support to AGRA grantees to improve their digital offering by exploring areas of use of big data and artificial intelligence in digital transformation of AGRA.

It will also provide skills development support to AGRA through leveraging existing Microsoft programmes including co-managing an internship programme.

Additionally, it will provide co-design and development of technology solutions to support AGRA programmes and processes.

The partnership has also provided initial support to AGRA grantees including 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 latest partnership follows on from the initial collaboration announced a year ago during the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF).

During the past year, Microsoft 4Afrika and AGRA have worked tirelessly on many engagements.

Some of these include work with the Kenyan Ministry of Agriculture, the development of the KuzaBot chatbot to support the Village Based Advisor programme and farmers and the development of the Food Security War Room in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Microsoft and AGRA are also partnering with Kenya’s 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 (ASTGS) for digitisation.

This partnership forms part of Microsoft’s ongoing investment in agri-tech across the continent including the expansion of FarmBeats.

Additionally, Microsoft has supported a number of African agri-tech start-ups and companies, including SunCulture, Virtual City, N-Frnds and Twiga Foods.

“We look forward to next year to deepen each area of work we have begun together both technically and geographically. We very much appreciate the opportunity to draw on Microsoft’s digital architecture support on digital ecosystems and big data platforms,” says Vanessa Adams, Vice President, Strategic Partnerships and Chief of Party at AGRA.

Microsoft 4Afrika Regional Director, Amrote Abdella, said that the technology giant is excited to continue its work with AGRA in building locally-relevant technology solutions that are mindful of challenges local farmers face, while offering solutions to farmers and policy makers alike to deliver meaningful impact across the Continent.

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