The Government of Kenya, through the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries recently hosted a national dialogue with stakeholders in partnership with Microsoft. The theme of the dialogue was Agriculture Data and Digitization Transformation: Considerations in Policy and Implementation Frameworks.

The online event was part of an ongoing global process in preparation for the 2021 United Nations Food Systems Summit, whose national Chair is CS Hon. Peter Munya. The Ministry convened stakeholders to expound on its Agriculture Sector Coordination and Digitization Strategy and the implementation of a roadmap.

Kenya’s food systems, like the rest of the world, are in the middle of a digital revolution amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. This dialogue brought together partners running different data and digital innovation initiatives across Kenya to share experiences and make recommendations for consideration at the UN Food Systems Summit.

Other areas discussed included the following.

  • AI in Agriculture presented by Strathmore University.
  • Use of GIS for County Food Systems Planning by H.E. Governor Wilberforce Ottichilo of Vihiga County.
  • Digital innovations to increase production, marketing and access to affordable, nutritious and safe food by Mr. Sriram Bharatam of Kuza Biashara.
  • Adoption of digital innovations to increase access to finance and insurance by Mr. Alex Mwaniki, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives.

The Permanent Secretary Ministry of ICT, Jerome Ochieng, noted, “The future of agriculture depends on digital systems. These will improve farm produce, environment and also the health of people.”

Microsoft Country Manager Kendi Ntwiga said that digitization is able to transform Kenya’s agricultural sector, improve productivity, and help the country make progress towards achieving food security.

“The transformation of smallholder farming to improve efficiency, productivity and assure quality controls enabled through digitisation can certainly support Kenya’s agricultural transformation strategy. It can transform the use of more than four million hectares of farmed land as well as the livelihoods of more than five million rural households. Nevertheless, to enable agricultural transformation through digitization, a large amount of data must be collected and properly utilised,” emphasized Kendi.

The discussions further covered key issues that would support the transformation of agriculture through digitization. This includes the need for partnerships, capacity building, financing and streamlined governance of digital agriculture.

On the need for enhanced partnerships, Mr. Samuel Munguti, CEO of Farmer Pride, noted that collaborations between the private sector and government can achieve scale and sustainability.

The role of the youth was also highlighted with Mr. Sriram Bharatam of Kuza Biashara. Mr. Sriram emphasized the need for private sector social enterprises to build the capacity of the youth and help them learn, connect and grow at scale.