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IBM’s support to African agricultural start-ups to allow food sufficiency

By Juliet Umeh

Just as food insecurity looms in Nigeria and some other African countries, a global information technology, IT hardware manufacturer and service provider, International Business Machines, IBM, has said that it is supporting the Digital4Agriculture Initiative, D4Ag with IT infrastructure.

D4Ag is an initiative that aims to foster African start-ups in the agricultural sector and strengthen the long-term living conditions of local small farmers by increasing productivity and quality.

According to the company, with the help of digital expertise from IBM Services and access to accurate weather data provided by IBM’s The Weather Company, D4Ag has successfully launched and is helping over 36 African agricultural companies become better prepared for the digital future.

It noted that reliable weather forecasts are very difficult to make for Africa’s agricultural industry due to IT infrastructure unavailability.
Also, small agricultural enterprises not only lack internet access and suitable hardware, but existing data is often unreliable or difficult to process.

And, by making high-resolution weather data available to agricultural start-ups, DG4Ag is providing valuable information to small farmers that can help them make important decisions with greater confidence. For example, historical weather data from a tea plantation served as training material and showed how data analysis can be used to increase yields, as well as to determine the best time to harvest or the optimal use of fertilisers or pest control.

A consultant at Make-IT in Africa who is also responsible for D4Ag, Desiree Winges said: “We want to help local start-ups to reach more customers and develop new markets. To this end, we provide them with basic knowledge in the areas of data analytics, interoperability and business modelling.

”We also want to promote cooperation between start-ups and platform operators to fully exploit the opportunities of the digital world.”
Also, Account Executive Public Sector, IBM, Florian Scheil, said: “Small farmers are the backbone of Africa’s food supply and their success and quality of life depends upon having reliable weather forecast data and insights.

“We’re proud to provide African farmers with weather information and services access to help them better manage and improve their crop production.”

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