Microsoft, OCP Africa to improve farmer productivity with digital agriculture platform

Microsoft, OCP Africa to improve farmer productivity with digital agriculture platform

Microsoft is partnering with OCP Africa through its Africa Transformation Office (ATO), with the goal of positively impacting smallholder farmers and Agri-stakeholders across Africa by 2025. OCP Africa, an African company that provides fertilizer solutions tailored to local conditions as well as the needs of soils and crops throughout the continent, will collaborate with Microsoft to strengthen and scale its digital agriculture platform. This platform improves farmer productivity while allowing them to better manage their businesses.

In this time of increasing food insecurity, enhancing the resilience and livelihoods for smallholder farmers is needed to drive increased agriculture productivity, including reducing losses in the food production chain. With the increasing impacts of more frequent extreme weather events, adaptation, and resilience are of crucial importance to the food system’s transformation,” said Wael Elkabbany, General Manager for Microsoft Africa Regional Cluster.

The announcement was made in Doha, Qatar at the 5th United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries. The collaboration will enable smallholder farmers to gain access to skilling and information through Agri-digital services, leveraging OCP Africa programs such as the Farmer Hub concept to support millions of farmers. OCP Africa will also collaborate with Microsoft to explore the use of big data, machine learning, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to build their data and AI platform to improve operational efficiency and better serve ecosystem stakeholders.

digital agriculture platform farmbeats

On his part, the CEO of OCP Africa Dr. Mohamed Anouar Jamali said: “African agriculture is at a transformational moment in its history – and a time of incredible possibility and promise for farmers and industry alike. Digitizing agricultural practices in Africa allows smallholder farmers to optimize their decision-making, which in turn helps optimize production. The partnership between OCP Africa and Microsoft will allow us to increase the services provided and scale up our digital agriculture platform, expand our reach, and make an even bigger impact on food security across the continent.”

Collaboration with African AgriTech startups, agricultural firms, and partners to increase access to technology, skills, and agricultural knowledge is expected to optimize the industry and generate new revenue streams that will ensure global food security. The adoption and integration of technologies such as the Cloud, AI, Agri Data Platforms, and Azure App modernization into the agricultural space is also expected to deliver transformation in the form of precision agriculture.

We believe that precision farming, brought about by the adoption of advanced technologies into the agricultural sector, will revolutionize food production and help to eliminate hunger and poverty in Africa. Technology is the key factor in enabling and increasing access to finance, equipment, and sustainability for rural farmers, empowering local farmers in Africa. Our partnership with OCP Africa will help to directly impact smallholder farmers and improve production,” added Elkabbany.

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Microsoft pledges agritech support in Africa to increase food security

Microsoft pledges agritech support in Africa to increase food security

Microsoft is promising its commitment to working with both the private and public sectors to accelerate digital transformation in African agriculture in order to increase food security for the continent.

Speaking during a virtual roundtable panel discussion on the topic, Microsoft Kenya Acting Country Manager Kunle Awosika said the organisation is committed to continuing investing in agritech on the continent, with the goal of developing agritech that enables data-driven, precise and connected farming that optimises yields, boosts farm productivity and increases profitability.

We understand that these important issues will not be solved by one company, but through partnerships with the private sector and our partners in government for maximum impact and benefit to the farmers of Africa,” he said.

food security africa microsoft agritech

Speaking at the same forum, ATO Coordinator, Agriculture Transformation Office, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives Thule Lenneiye, said: “Through partnerships such as the one with Microsoft, we can offer our smallholder farmers valuable services that help them modernize and digitize age-old farming practices, increasing productivity and boosting food security for our communities and country.”

One way in which agritech changes the face of agriculture is through democratising information. In partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture, Microsoft is investing in the Kenyan National Agriculture Platform as a key initiative to drive digitalization in agriculture. As part of this investment, a developer team based in Kenya has developed an Agri chatbot, which provides extension and advisory services to smallholder farmers using either feature phones or smartphones, via SMS, WhatsApp and Telegram.

The AgriBot provides a key platform that farmers can use to access all the relevant information from the Ministry of Agriculture and other government institutions, as well as services from the private sector. These services are invaluable to the over 400,000 farmers already on the platform who would otherwise not have access to such a resource.

Olatomiwa Williams, Microsoft Country Manager Nigeria and Ghana speaking at the forum said the organization is working with stakeholders to identify and develop sustainable and inclusive digital solutions for agro-products and services that seamlessly connect farmers, customers and other stakeholders in the ecosystem. Importantly to improve the economic situation of farmers in Nigeria.

Microsoft also recently announced that it is extending its partnership with the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). The initial collaboration between the two organizations started in 2019 when Microsoft and AGRA co-created the AgriBot as a digital solution for localized extension and advisory services for smallholder farmers.

The new phase of the relationship will promote digital innovation and technology as an enabler to connect the agriculture ecosystems, sustainably integrating stakeholders in the service of strategic value chains.

Our partnership with AGRA forms part of Microsoft’s ongoing investment in agritech across the continent as we support digital transformation in the sector. We’re excited to continue building locally relevant technology solutions that address the local farmers’ needs and deliver meaningful impact,” added Kunle.

On his part, John Macharia, AGRA Kenya Country Manager, said: “At AGRA, we realized early on that digital innovation is critical in advancing food security and poverty eradication in Africa. Our partnership with Microsoft will directly support governments, SMEs and farmers, by bringing the digital tools needed to build resilient food systems.”

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