Africa is fast becoming a global hub for agritech
Africa’s agricultural sector is expected to grow exponentially over the next decade, reveals a study commissioned by Microsoft and compiled by Africa Practice.
With a projected value of Â¢ 1 trillion by 2030, the continent is poised to become the global hub of agro-technological solutions and has also seen rapid growth in e-agriculture solutions.
With agriculture providing 70 percent of Africa’s livelihood, Microsoft believes agriculture is a key sector in Africa. Developing agritech solutions to enable data-driven, accurate and connected agriculture will help farmers across Africa to optimize yields, boost agricultural productivity and increase profitability.
Leveraging our extensive network of partnerships and initiatives, Microsoft, through its 4Afrika initiative, is committed to ensuring that all farming communities are equipped with the latest tools such as AI, IoT and advanced computing to improve productivity and sustainability in the sector.
Africa is emerging as a global leader in the agro-tech space – between 2016 and 2019, the agro-tech sector grew 44% year-over-year, and the continent recorded the most large number of agro-technological services in the developing world, reaching over 33 million smallholders. farmers to this day.
Agriculture already represents 14% of the GDP in Africa and 52% of the continent’s workforce. As the continent’s middle class grows rapidly, it is expected that it will drive increased demand for fresh produce, while the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) could boost the 49% intra-African trade.
Through increased investments in inputs, storage facilities and irrigation infrastructure, Africa is expected to triple its agricultural production by 2030.
Covid-19 has made digital interaction essential
Smallholder farmers make up 80% of the farming community, and it is expected that up to 200 million smallholder farmers will be registered for agro-technological solutions by 2030.
Mobile connectivity is expected to reach over 55% by 2030, compared to 45% currently, meaning that over 85% of smallholder farmers could have access to features or smartphones and mobile solutions.
This is essential, as many small farmers live in remote areas, are hard to reach and lack purchasing power on their own.
Agribusinesses provide technological services to these farmers, using digital tools to reach out to smallholders with extension services. With Covid-19’s current restrictions on travel, digital interaction with farmers has become essential.
The past year has seen tremendous growth across the continent in the use of mobile money, e-commerce platforms, big data and e-extension services, all of which promise to advance technologies. agricultural.
Restrictions on movement have seen more farmers and agribusinesses turn to e-commerce platforms, strengthening distribution chains.
Agritech solutions have a direct impact on the farmers with whom they engage. Twiga Foods connects smallholder farmers in rural Kenya with informal retail vendors in cities. Through Twiga’s mobile business-to-business food supply platform, vendors can order fresh produce from farmers in Kenya at competitive prices.
Another 4Afrika partner, NFrnds, brings the power of digital to subsistence farmers and smallholder farmers in Africa and other emerging markets, via mobile. The platform provides vital information to users and has nurtured a community of farmers who network and support each other. It also provides access to financial services for market segments traditionally underserved by banks and formal insurance companies.
Climate change stimulates the growth of sustainable agricultural practices
The adverse effects of climate change have highlighted the need to adopt sustainable and climate-friendly farming practices, including effective tools to manage climate-related information, and ensure that sustainable practices are passed on to smallholders.
There is a need for more robust and sustainable agricultural practices, which requires innovative technological solutions. Extension services for smallholder farmers are a means of providing relevant information and implementation strategies. The development of big data platforms is a way to inform farmers about good agricultural practices.
SunCulture identified access to water as the biggest challenge for most farmers, so the first product they developed was a solar-powered pump combined with micro-irrigation.
Through precision farming, Microsoft is supporting SunCulture with an IoT platform and Azure machine learning tools for their solar system, enabling them to offer farmers personalized recommendations and solutions through their mobile phones. It helps them become better and more productive farmers.
Richard Kiplagat, Group Director and MD East Africa for Africa Practice comments: âAcross Africa, agricultural transformation is well and truly underway. The opportunity for the sector to address some of the continent’s most pressing challenges – including food security, income inequality and livelihoods for our young and rapidly growing population – is immense.
The big question is how to catalyze this momentum, especially given the urgent need for a swift recovery from Covid. Our results clearly show that agritech holds great promise as an effective tool for improving productivity, decision making and market access. Africa Practice is excited about the results of the study and its potential to inform the growth of the agricultural sector on the continent.
âTechnology has the potential to change the face of agriculture, using smart precision farming tools and platforms, predicting weather conditions, maximizing the use of scarce water resources. By harnessing agro-technology, we can help solve pressing food security issues to achieve United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 2, Zero Hunger, and strengthen economic development in the process.
âWe are excited to work with our partners to create locally relevant technology solutions that take into account the challenges that local farmers face, offering solutions for farmers to have a meaningful impact,â says Amrote Abdella, Regional Director of Microsoft 4Afrika.