The International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Microsoft, through its Africa Transformation Office (ATO), are working together to advance food security and agriculture, leveraging digital transformation platforms.
The partnership, which was demonstrated during a session during Adaptation and Agriculture Day at COP27 in Egypt, follows the United Nations’ identification of Zero Hunger as one of its Sustainable Development Goals.
This goal, according to a statement from Microsoft in Lagos, aims to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture.
The IFC-Microsoft partnership, the statement said, makes digital tools and training resources more accessible to smallholder farmers and agriculture-related small businesses. the supply chain of African agribusiness.
“The partnership delivers digital agricultural products that support African agribusinesses in strengthening food security and developing greater resilience to climate change,” said Kunle Awosika, Managing Director of Microsoft ATO.
Awosika noted that agriculture accounts for about 25 percent of Africa’s GDP and 70 percent of employment, but pointed out that the supply chains of many African farms were fragmented and suffered from poor information flows.
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He added that many farmers have relied on traditional agronomic practices and technologies that have come under increasing pressure from climate-related shocks. “Digital technology can improve the functioning of key supply chains in the food system through greater agricultural efficiencies, improved business practices, traceability, food safety and access to finance,” he said.
“The partnership integrates digital tools such as Microsoft’s AgBot and community training applications with IFC’s Agribusiness Leadership Program to provide agribusinesses, farmers and cooperatives with better information, newer technologies and management capability training.
Henrik Elschner Pedersen, IFC’s director for manufacturing, agribusiness and services in Africa, pointed out that “digital technology can improve the functioning of key supply chains in the food system by boosting production and improving business practices, promoting traceability and increasing access to finance. increase.”
However, Pedersen noted that the use of digital tools in Africa’s agricultural sector remains limited, often due to infrastructure, affordability, awareness and regulation. can benefit from the power of the digital economy.”
Current research estimates that smallholders make up 80 percent of the farming community, with an estimated 33 million smallholders, but they are often hard to reach, live in remote areas and lack access to skills, knowledge and agricultural support services.
Awosika believed that the changing climate offers new opportunities for farmers in relation to emerging markets for carbon credits, regenerative agriculture and the application of nature-based services.
However, he noted that these new opportunities must be supported by robust management and reporting systems. These are exactly the systems supported by the new set of digital tools.