Microsoft SA invests into AgriTech in order to assist smallholder farmers digitize

Microsoft South Africa selected The Awareness Company to be the beneficiary of its AgriTech Program. The Awareness Company will create and implement three high-impact solutions for the agriculture sector in the next year. This will positively impact one of the country’s most critical sectors and help to drive growth, job creation, and economic development.

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Lillian Barnard CEO of Microsoft South Africa, says that technology – particularly agritech, has the potential to empower smallholder farmers in our country by enabling them become more productive, efficient and competitive, as well as commercially viable, sustainable, and profitable.

Many challenges face smallholder farmers in South Africa that hinder them from reaching their full potential. Security concerns, lack of infrastructure, accessing competitive formal markets, production skills, financial support, funding, and financial assistance to reinvest in farming activities as well as compliance to food safety regulations and legislation are some of the challenges.

Many fail to take advantage of the technology available to them in order to scale up into commercial farms. Lack of actionable insights and productivity results in low productivity, inefficiency, and low levels of competition.

The Awareness Company’s Hydra Holistic Agriculture digital solutions will allow smallholder farmers to increase efficiency in their farming operations by using operational insights. This will enable them to lower production costs, increase yields, strengthen connections throughout the value chain, and improve farm security.

“The country’s smallholder farmers, which number between two and four million, play a crucial role in driving food security, economic participation and food security,” states Priaash Ramadeen (Co-Founder and CEO, The Awareness Company).

Microsoft’s investment and support in helping us, a local business, to grow and create solutions that solve real-world problems is meaningful. This program has given us the opportunity to update and create products that are compatible with our previous work in the agricultural sector to promote sustainable agriculture, food security and intelligent data.

This is the digital solution basket.

  • HYDRA farmSecurity: combines AI, data analysis and sensors through an accessible mobile platform. This acts as an early warning system that provides a safe environment for living and working.
  • HYDRA farmAwareness: allows farmers to digitise farms in order to improve their overall management of crops, livestock, and people. This increases yields, quality, and competability as well as compliance with regulations.
  • HYDRA Insights: offers data-driven insights, innovation and IoT to improve the services offered by agri organizations.

We want to unlock the potential of South Africa’s smallholder farmers and core industries by tapping into the potential of agritech. Barnard concludes that by investing in local businesses, and in disruptive technologies, we can build on our commitments to support the competitiveness and innovation of key sectors and drive economic growth in South Africa.

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