Innovate, Microsoft Tells Africa

Amrote Abdella, the regional director for Microsoft 4Afrika. She says enhanced productivity and collaboration tools that connect farmers, field personnel, suppliers and researchers will be vital for agriculture's success in the country and beyond. PHOTO | POOL

By Faustine Ngila

Why is it becoming important for Africa to innovate in agriculture?

Agriculture accounts for 65 per cent of Kenya’s export earnings. It provides the livelihood for more than 80 per cent of the population.

Despite this, Sub-Saharan Africa faces the greatest food security risk. By 2050, its population is expected to increase 2.5-fold.

Because of this, the agricultural transformation has become a priority on policy agenda. Just half a tonne increase in staple yields could generate a 13-20 per cent higher GDP in many developing countries.

Innovations offer powerful tools that can revolutionise agriculture. To manage rising demands in a sustainable way, it is imperative for every player to embrace opportunities offered by technology.

The Digitalisation of African Agriculture Report found that despite 400 solutions in play, 90 per cent of the market for digital solutions in agriculture remains untapped.

Which innovations are driving growth in the sector in Africa?

Effective use of technology can support food security and unlock opportunities that can attract young people into agribusiness. Multinationals, industry leaders and entrepreneurs have started seeing the potential in this sector.

Precision farming techniques are an example of how technology is changing the industry.

Data and advanced analytics can be used to predict short-term weather and their effect on a farm. Investors are also following agri-space and scouting for scalable solutions across markets.

Agritech start-ups across the continent accumulated Sh1.3 billion in funding in 2017. Twiga Foods recently raised Sh2.3 billion in funding from Goldman Sachs Group to enable it to invest in technology-driven commercial solutions.

Microsoft has spent years looking for and investing in agritech solutions.

We have provided technical, financial and market support to African Agritech solution providers, including N-Frnds, Twiga Foods, Tulaa, AGIN and SunCulture. Read more…

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