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Microsoft partners with AGRA to support digital transformation in agriculture

by Evans Mumba

The partnership between Microsoft and Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), enabled through the Microsoft 4Afrika initiative, will enhance AGRA’s digital transformation agenda as it works to improve food security for 30 million farming households across 11 countries by 2021.

Microsoft has, together with the AGRA, entered into a Memorandum of Understanding to co-create technology solutions in the agricultural sector.

“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 policymakers alike to deliver meaningful impact,” said Microsoft 4Afrika Regional Director, Amrote Abdella.

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 the digital transformation of AGRA.
  • Skills development support to AGRA through leveraging existing Microsoft programmes, including co-managing an internship programme.
  • Co-design and development of technology solutions to support AGRA programmes and processes.

The partnership has formerly 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 an initial collaboration announced in 2019 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.

“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 and AGRA are also partnering with the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries, and Cooperatives (MoALFC) 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 forms part of Microsoft’s ongoing investment in agri-tech across the continent, including the expansion of FarmBeats. In addition, Microsoft has supported several African agri-tech start-ups and companies, including SunCulture, Virtual City, N-Frnds, and Twiga Foods.

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