Microsoft and the Ministry of Agriculture have partnered in a bid to help farmers solve key challenges affecting them. This is part of Microsoft’s ongoing investment into agriculture for social good and AI. The partnership seeks to accelerate innovation in the agricultural sector in Kenya.

In the partnership, Microsoft will design, pilot and launch a programme to drive agricultural solutions innovation that addresses key challenges facing the agricultural sector such as pests and disease control, sustainable agricultural resource management, agri-weather data, and others.

The tech giant will also leverage its Open Data Platform and Azure Chatbot services to help farmers with agricultural pest control diagnostics. Microsoft 4Afrika will also co-host workshops involving a wide range of agri-tech stakeholders including the World Bank Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Kenya Agriculture Livestock and Research Organisation (KALRO), AGRA and others, to address issues in Kenya’s agricultural data ecosystem.

In addition to its partnerships with AGRA and the World Bank, Microsoft’s investments in agriculture include its  FarmBeats  project, which is using is low-cost sensors, drones and machine learning algorithms to support data-driven, precision farming. Previous winners of its AI for Earth grants in Africa include  SunCulture , DHI Group and the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture, who are all using artificial intelligence to address food security and nutrition in Africa.

Through its 4Afrika initiative, Microsoft will also partner with Ministry of Agriculture to recruit, train and place interns through its Interns4Afrika programme. This initiative seeks to offer young graduates the chance to grow their careers through six-month placements in Microsoft partner organisations. The programme helps bridge the gap between graduate skills and the skills set employers are looking for, while providing graduates with real-world, hands-on job experience to assist them in moving from learning to earning. By having access to Microsoft trained and certified interns, Interns4Afrika partners can extend their talent pipeline and retain strong talent.

Microsoft Kenya Country Manager Kendi Nderitu, had this to say, “Microsoft believes that adoption and integration of technologies such as the cloud, AI and more, into the agricultural space will bring about this transformation in the form of precision. Microsoft wants to enable agricultural firms to become thriving digital businesses that provide sustainable food and nutrition to the world.”