By George Munene
Through Microsoft’s 4Africa initiative over 50,000 smallholder farmers and 50 cooperatives in Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, and Cote d’Ivoire will be equipped with digital skills and training that will help them boost their yields and incomes as well as modernise their supply chains.
As digital tools such as cloud computing, computing systems, connectivity, and open-source software become increasingly accessible, the barrier of entry into farming technology has gradually dropped, meaning technology companies can now deliver solutions to small-size African farms at cost models that are affordable and within their reach.
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Despite agribusiness contributing 70% of Africa’s employment and 25 per cent of its gross domestic product, the adoption of technology that has become essential in strengthening food systems is still limited.
The program will employ agri-tech with features such as Microsoft’s KuzaBot. A mobile chat platform, which accelerates the dissemination of information to farmers on good agricultural and business practices.
The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a partner in the initiative, will run an Agribusiness Leadership Program, which will be available on the Microsoft Community Training (MCT) platform. This will provide small businesses, aggregators, and farmer cooperatives with tools to improve their professionalism, productivity, and creditworthiness.
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“Digital technologies have the power to transform small-scale farming in Africa. 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, IFC’s Sub-Saharan Africa Regional Manager.