Microsoft and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) showcased their partnership at the United Nations Climate Summit COP27, where they highlighted their focus on strengthening food security and ensuring resilience against climate change.
The partnership will integrate digital tools such as Microsoft’s agritech chatbot AgBot and Community Training applications – delivered via the Microsoft Azure cloud to support personalised learning – with IFC’s Agribusiness Leadership Program to provide better information, newer technologies and management capacity training to agribusinesses, farmers and cooperatives.
“Digital technology can improve the operation of key supply chains in the food system by boosting production, improving business practices, promoting traceability and increasing access to finance,” said Henrik Elschner Pedersen, IFC’s director for manufacturing, agribusiness and services in Africa. “However, the use of digital tools in Africa’s agriculture sector remains limited, often because of infrastructure, affordability, awareness and regulatory issues. IFC and Microsoft are working together to change this so more agricultural players in Africa can leverage the power of the digital economy.”
Microsoft’s AgBot provides extension and advisory services to smallholder farmers using mobile phones via SMS, WhatsApp and Telegram messenger. It enables users to access information such as weather alerts, crop advisories, pest diagnoses and market prices. To date, over 500,000 farmers use AgBot to access information and improve productivity.
“By using digital channels, agronomic and business-sensitive information is delivered directly to smallholder farmers to help improve productivity as well as mitigate the risks associated with climate change and unexpected weather events,” said Kunle Awosika, managing director for Microsoft Africa Transformation Office. “Combined, the digital tools encourage improved farming practices, more sustainable and resilient farming practices and greater efficiencies in resource use.”