Microsoft4Afrika and the International Finance Corporation have unveiled a tool that will avail digital tools and training resources to small-scale farmers and agriculture-linked small businesses in Africa
The programme 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 Uganda, Kenya, Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeri.
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 and access to finance.
“we need to pay close attention to how agri-tech organisations transform digitally, what challenges they face acquiring new technologies, and the daily challenges they may be facing in the area of digital skills development. Microsoft 4Afrika’s strategy is to invest in agri-tech to unlock Africa’s vibrant potential in agriculture all while feeding a nation,” said Kendi Nderitu, Country Manager for Microsoft Kenya.
The partnership will leverage 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.
“By making digital tools more accessible to farmers, cooperatives and last-mile retailers, Microsoft and IFC can together help the agribusiness sector to capitalise on the opportunities afforded by the digital economy.” said Samuel Dzotefe, the acting Regional Industry Director, Manufacturing, Agribusiness and Services, Middle East & Africa IFC
The partnership will include Microsoft’s KuzaBot mobile chat platform, which will speed and ease the dissemination of vital information to farmers on good agricultural and business practices.
IFC’s Agribusiness Leadership Program, which will be available on the Microsoft Community Training platform, will help small businesses, aggregators, and farmer cooperatives improve their professionalism, productivity, and creditworthiness.
Over the long term, 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.
Agribusiness contributes about 25 percent of Africa’s GDP and 70 percent of its employment.