An initiative that will avail digital tools and training resources to small-scale farmers and agriculture-linked small businesses in Africa has been launched.
The program is a partnership between Microsoft’s 4Afrika initiative and IFC and aims to support digital transformation in Africa’s agribusiness sector, modernize supply chains and boost farmers’ productivity and incomes.
To start with, a mobile platform will be piloted among farmers in Kenya, Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, and Uganda.
This targets to reach and support 50,000 farmers and at least 50 cooperatives.
The initiative is informed by the fact that digital technology can improve the operation of key supply chains in the food system through greater agricultural efficiencies, improved business practices, traceability, food safety and, access to finance.
However, the use of digital tools in Africa’s agriculture sector remains limited, often because of infrastructure, affordability, awareness, and regulatory issues
Also, agribusiness contributes about 25 percent of Africa’s GDP and 70 percent of its employment.
The partnership is said to take advantage of Microsoft 4Afrika’s unique digital platforms and IFC’s Agribusiness Leadership Program to help small-scale farmers, their cooperatives, and “last mile retailers” access information and digital tools to strengthen farming practices, build business professionalism and improve food security and traceability throughout the supply chain.
IFC’s Agribusiness Leadership Program, which will be available on the Microsoft Community Training platform, seeks to help small businesses, aggregators, and farmer cooperatives improve their professionalism, productivity, and creditworthiness.
Over an extended period, the partnership aims to deepen the understanding of factors that drive the adoption and use of digital solutions among smallholder farmers, farmer cooperatives, and other actors in the agriculture supply chain.
Microsoft 4Afrika’s strategy is to invest in agri-tech to unlock Africa’s vibrant potential, accelerating innovation in agri-tech to enable data-driven farming that can optimize yields, boost farm productivity and increase profitability – all while feeding a nation – Kendi Nderitu, Country Manager for Microsoft Kenya.