Home News Deals and Investment Microsoft SA Provides R40-million Funding for SA Agriculture Sector

Microsoft SA Provides R40-million Funding for SA Agriculture Sector

  • Microsoft South Africa has announced funding of up to R40-million in South Africa’s agriculture sector, which is one of the country’s key industries driving growth and job creation.
  • Microsoft SA will work with local tech companies to create creative solutions to agricultural challenges.
  • The investment will be used to allow smallholder farmers to leverage the technological potential to help enhance their farms’ economic participation and contribution, efficiencies, profitability, and sustainability.

Microsoft South Africa has confirmed funding of up to R40-million in South Africa’s agriculture sector, which is one of the country’s key industries driving growth and job creation.

The investment is aimed at fostering sector sustainability for smallholder farmers, who are a significant part of the country’s labour force.

More than two million of these farmers are helping to alleviate poverty for local communities and build food systems for South Africa and the broader South African region. Nevertheless, They face challenges, that keep them from being commercially viable, productive, and sustainable.

READ ALSO: SA’s AgVentures Secures R100m from SA Agrifood Business

Lillian Barnard, Managing Director at Microsoft South Africa spoke on the importance of smallholder farmers’ role in driving national economic growth.

“There is no doubt that South Africa’s smallholder farmers have significant potential to drive growth and employment opportunities, as well as enable other sectors within the country to ultimately drive food security. This makes it critical to invest in the sector to address the challenges they face. Key challenges are a lack of infrastructure, access to competitive formal markets, production and business skills, funding and financial support to re-invest in their farming activities, and compliance with food safety regulations and legislation.”

Leveraging technology for Agriculture

The investment will be used to allow smallholder farmers to leverage the technological potential to help enhance their farms’ economic participation and contribution, efficiencies, profitability, and sustainability.

It also aims to help achieve wider South African National Development Plan objectives. Such priorities include: creating work opportunities and promoting the creation of skills to bring more women and young South Africans into key sectors such as agriculture.

In order to roll out these technologies, Microsoft will be identifying and appointing established local tech companies to develop and implement high-impact solutions to the challenges the agricultural sector currently faces.

A study by Research ICT Africa on ‘Paving the path to digitalising agriculture in South Africa’ shows advanced technologies such as the Internet of Things, remote sensing technology, and unmanned aerial vehicles can transform the agricultural sector.

Furthermore, these tools will help address the challenges of food security in South Africa, build employment, and resolve historical disparities by rising food security.

“Our investment is aimed at making a real difference in one of South Africa’s most vital sectors by harnessing the power of technology. High-impact technological solutions will improve efficiencies in smallholder farming, lower the cost of production, improve access to local and international markets, improve compliance with legislation, and drive access to information, among others. By investing in the agriculture sector and unlocking the potential of technology to act as an enabler for growth and skills development, we are showing our commitment to driving sustainability and creating opportunities in one of South Africa’s most critical, job-creating industries,” Barnard added.

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