(Ecofin Agency) - The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, today announced a partnership with Microsoft's 4Afrika initiative to make digital tools and training resources more accessible to small-scale farmers and agriculture-linked small businesses.
The partnership will include Microsoft's KuzaBot mobile chat platform which will be piloted among farmers in Kenya, Nigeria, Cote d'Ivoire, and Uganda. As per the release, the first pilots aim to support 50,000 farmers and more than 50 cooperatives.
"Now more than ever, we need to pay close attention to how agri-tech organizations 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, accelerating innovation in agri-tech to enable data-driven farming that can optimize yields, boost farm productivity and increase profitability - all while feeding a nation," said Kendi Nderitu, Country Manager for Microsoft Kenya.
Digital technology is one way to boost agricultural production and efficiency, reducing the impact caused by food insecurity in Africa. According to the 2021 Global Report on Food Crises released two months ago, acute food insecurity now affects more than 155 million people across 55 countries - Of the 10 countries with acute cases, six were in Africa. Africa remained the most affected by food crises as of last year, accounting for 63% of the total number of people in crisis globally. Ongoing conflicts, Poor weather conditions, and impacts caused by the pandemic will further worsen the situation as severe food insecurity globally is forecasted to rise from 20 million people in 2020 to 43 million people facing Crisis-level food insecurity in 2021.