The Regional Director, Microsoft 4Afrikan, Amrote Abdella, has said that one of the most key challenges facing Africa at the moment was the lack of capacity to achieve food security for its citizens. Abdella said that while many farmers still rely on traditional techniques to eke out a living from the land, there are opportunities for cutting-edge technology to drive Africa towards a food-secure future.”
According to him, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) reports that over two billion people do not have access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food, noting that a steady increase in hunger since 2014 together with rising obesity, clearly indicates the need to accelerate and scale up actions to strengthen food systems and protect people’s livelihoods. “It seems only fitting then, that in 2020, the theme for World Food Day is ‘Our Actions are Our Future’. Accelerating innovation in agri-tech will enable data-driven farming that can optimise yields, boost farm productivity and increase profitability – all while feeding a nation.
“AI in agriculture uses cutting-edge data, advanced analytics and machine learning to bring centuries-old farming knowledge into the modern age, giving farmers the tools to optimise crop yields and mitigate the effects of climate change through tools like smart irrigation. With agriculture sustaining 70 per cent of Africa’s livelihoods, Microsoft is committed to ensuring that all farming communities are equipped with the latest tools including AI, IoT and edge computing to improve productivity and sustainability across the sector, leveraging our extensive partnerships and initiatives network in the process.
“There has been reference in the recent past of AI replacing people in jobs, but what happens when AI and IoT devices enables people to spend less time on menial manual labour and more time boosting productivity and crop yields? AI and cloud technology can be used to monitor soil, climate changes and more to make better decisions on when, where, and how much to plant on farms. Precision farming, brought about by the adoption of advanced technologies into the agricultural sector, will revolutionise food production.