Featured Image via Flickr/Rod Waddington
Small farmer owners are the most susceptible group to the effects of climate change. At the same time, many African small-hold farmers have a lack of access to information and knowledge on effective agricultural production. This creates a need for a platform for agriculture. According to AllAfrica, rain-fed agriculture accounts for more than 90 percent of farmed lands in sub-Saharan Africa. Some of the effects climate change has on these lands are drought, disease and pests.
As a result, Nairobi’s Techno Brain has collaborated with Microsoft Corporation to launch a Digital Agriculture Platform in Africa. Techno Brain is Africa’s leading ICT solutions company and has been recognized for improving citizen services and lives through innovation and business services. In fact, the company has received the Microsoft Country Partner award five times. The company has ongoing operations in about 21 nations in the African continent. The companies operations goes beyond the IT industry, the company is also involved in e-governance, identity management, public finance management, etc.
Techno Brain’s platform will strive to improve farmers’ crop yields and also increase their income. Techno Brain has proposed collating data such as farm location using Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates, expected rainfall, weather patterns, land type and soil nutrition. This data will be collected and provided to farmers in order to help African farmers make well-informed decisions regarding their land. Also, the project will make farmers more resilient to climate changes. Additionally, the project could potential to attract more African youth to the farming industry, as most African youth have neglected the agriculture sector. The initiative will begin in Malawi and Tanzania.
More specifically the platform is intended to send insights on mobiles through text messages (SMS) and voice platforms. The insights will provide farmers will information on the most viable crops to plant, adverse weather notices, the best harvesting times, farming tips, pest alerts and optimal sowing times.
“Agriculture is the main stay of African economies but has a lot of untapped potential. Many African smallholder farmers lack access to information and knowledge that would help them maximize agricultural production, and we believe that this platform offered by Techno Brain and Microsoft will empower African smallholder farmers to increase their yields and income significantly,” said Anand Mohan, CEO of Techno Brain.
Corporate Vice President Cloud + AI Microsoft, Anil Bhansali said “Microsoft’s vision is to use the power of our cloud and AI tools to help solve problems in core and infrastructural areas by enabling innovative and scalable solutions. The partnership with Techno Brain marks an important milestone in our ongoing efforts to help create sustainable livelihoods in Africa, India and rest of the world.”
The project is predicted to be successful because Microsoft has already implemented a similar plan in India. Microsoft has partnered with the India government and corporations to help small farmers protect and cultivate their farmlands. So, this platform is a great opportunity for African nations to effectively utilize their agriculture sector to boost their economies. However, the initiative may face some challenges.