Regional Director, Microsoft 4Afrika, Amrote Abdella, believes that by harnessing agri-tech, Africa can solve the pressing issue around food security.
She disclosed this during a thought leadership talk, titled “Data-driven agriculture can solve the challenge of food security in Africa.”
Abdella said that technology has the potential to change the face of farming.
According to her, this can be achieved by using smart tools and platforms for precision farming, predicting weather patterns, and maximising the use of scarce water resources.
Cutting-edge tech for ancient traditions
With agriculture sustaining 70% of Africa’s livelihoods, she said that Microsoft is committed to ensuring that all farming communities are equipped with the latest tools.
AI in agriculture uses cutting-edge data, advanced analytics and machine learning to bring centuries-old farming knowledge into the modern age.
It also gives farmers the tools to optimise crop yields.
Another benefit is that it mitigates the effects of climate change through tools like smart irrigation.
AI as an enabler of farming
There has been reference in the recent past of AI replacing people in jobs.
However, AI and IoT devices enable people to spend less time on menial manual labour,
This means more time boosting productivity and crop yields.
According to Abdella, AI and cloud technology are to monitor soil and climate changes.
Additionally, it is to make better decisions on when, where, and how much to plant on farms.
In Kenya, SunCulture helps farmers improve their crop yields through solar-powered irrigation systems.
Microsoft, through the 4Afrika initiative, has collaborated with the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) to co-create technology solutions in Africa.
It is also working to improve food security for 30 million farming households across 11 countries by 2021.
Additionally, in South Africa, Microsoft commissioned Research ICT Africa, in partnership with the University of Pretoria.
The goal, Abdella said, is to help identify opportunities within the industry to make farming more efficient and cost-effective, and highlight key regulatory and policy issues to address.