Millions Of Smallholder African Farmers To benefit From New Partnership Aimed At Boosting Food Security

By  |  April 11, 2019

A new partnership which bets on data to tackle food security in Africa has been unveiled in Newyork.

The partnership arose following a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between Atlas AI and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) backed by Rockefeller Foundation and other undisclosed partners.

The MoU established an agreement between Atlas AI and AGRA to collaborate around predictive analytics for smallholder agriculture.

The model will employ the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and satellite imagery to measure and predict crop yields. The partnership will help boost food security in eleven Sub-Saharan countries namely: Nigeria, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.

The deal between Atlas AI and AGRA will leverage on technology to benefit the millions of smallholder farmers who are incapable of investing in technologically advanced equipment that would otherwise boost yields hence improving their living standards.

Atlas AI is a Silicon Valley-based tech start-up that employs applications of satellite imagery and machine learning to offer useful insights in areas of land use, yields, and peak time for harvest, input distribution gaps, and other contextual monitoring aspects.

Dr Agnes Kalibata, President of AGRA, said the organisation currently worked in Kaduna and Niger States in Nigeria to fight food insecurity by transforming small holder farmers.

Kalibata said, “There have been many exciting advances in data, satellite imagery, and machine learning for agriculture over the years.”

“Until recently, very little of these technologies have been available to African farms due to the inability of farmers and governments to pay for them.”

“We are delighted to partner with Atlas AI and the Rockefeller Foundation in making these cutting edge advances in digital technology real and bringing them home for the millions of smallholder farmers we work with to improve their yields and lives.”

She stated that AGRA aims to transform Africa’s smallholder farming from just being an activity done for survival to a thriving business through developing high-yielding and locally adapted seeds, and improve soil fertility. She further divulged that AGRA upgraded storage facilities, strengthen farmers’ associations, expand access to credit for farmers and suppliers, improve access to markets and bargain for government policies that benefit farmers and agribusinesses.

Dr Rajiv Shah, President of The Rockefeller Foundation said the Foundation recognized that technology had the power to improve food security that was critical for both human welfare and economic growth in Africa. “This collaboration will utilize Atlas AI’s cutting-edge tools together with AGRA’s unique local data sets to help improve food security across sub-Saharan Africa.”

“It will unpack the results from predictive analytics to aid government and private sector decision-makers in the face of emerging threats and shocks such as changing weather, diseases and pests,” adding that it will support regional bodies in pushing for continental and global agricultural agenda

“I am excited that AGRA and Atlas AI will work together to drive agricultural transformation that will improve the lives of millions of smallholder farmers and the communities they serve,” he reiterated.

Featured Image Courtesy: Financial Times

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