Africa to become a global hub for Agritech
By Omolabake Fasogbon
Africa’s agricultural sector is expected to grow exponentially over the next decade, reveals a study commissioned by Microsoft and compiled by Africa Practice.
According to a statement from Microsoft, with a projected value of $ 1 trillion by 2030, the continent is poised to become the global center for agro-tech solutions and has also seen rapid growth in e-agriculture solutions.
“With agriculture providing 70% of Africa’s livelihood, Microsoft believes agriculture is a key sector in Africa. Developing agro-tech solutions to enable data-driven, accurate and connected agriculture will help farmers across Africa to optimize yields, increase agricultural productivity and increase profitability. Drawing on our vast 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 IT. leading edge to improve productivity and sustainability across the industry.
Africa is rapidly becoming a global leader in the agrotech space – between 2016 and 2019, the agrotech sector grew by 44% year-on-year, and the continent recorded the highest number of agrotech services in the world. developing, reaching over 33 million smallholder farmers to date.
Agriculture already accounts for 14 percent of Africa’s GDP and 52 percent of the continent’s workforce. The continent’s middle class is expected to grow rapidly, which will lead to increased demand for fresh produce, while the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) could boost intra-trade. -african by 49%. 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 critical
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-tech solutions by 2030. Mobile connectivity is expected to reach over 55% by 2030, compared to 45% currently, which means that more than 85% of small 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 the ongoing restrictions on movement of Covid-19, digital interaction with farmers has become critical. The past year has seen tremendous growth across the continent in the use of mobile money, e-commerce platforms, big data, and online extension services, all of which promise to spur further advancements in the market. ‘agritech. Restrictions on movement have seen more and 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 retailers in towns. Through Twiga’s business-to-business mobile food supply platform, vendors can order fresh produce from farmers in Kenya at competitive prices.
Another 4Afrika partner, NFrnds, is bringing the power of digital to subsistence farmers and smallholders 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 to 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 for adopting sustainable and climate-friendly agricultural practices, including effective tools to manage climate-related information, and ensuring that sustainable practices are reflected in local communities. small farmers. More robust and sustainable farming practices are needed, 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 the Africa practice, comments: “Across 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 rapid post-Covid recovery. 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.
Amrote Abdella, Regional Director of Microsoft 4Afrika, said: “Technology has the potential to change the face of agriculture, using smart tools and platforms for precision farming, predicting weather conditions and by maximizing the use of scarce water resources. By harnessing agricultural technology, we can help solve pressing food security issues to achieve United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 2 zero hunger, and improve economic development in the process. We are excited to work with our partners to create locally relevant technology solutions that take into account the challenges local farmers face, providing solutions for farmers to make a meaningful impact.