Home Articles Artificial intelligence key to Africa’s future food security

Artificial intelligence key to Africa’s future food security

food security AI

The cumulative view provided by the confluence of machine learning and decision making in conjunction with third-party data all hosted in the cloud has given rise to artificial intelligence (AI) in agriculture.

The ability of agricultural equipment to think, predict and even advise farmers presents Africa with an historic opportunity to meet the continent’s own food requirements. AI also presents Africa with the capability to integrate its agricultural sector into global agricultural value chains.

According to GeoFarm South Africa, farms in the United States are 27% more productive than South African farms compared across the same area, moisture levels and soil types. While, superficially, this is because farms in the United States are more mechanised, a closer examination of what these agricultural machines are doing shows just how fundamentally AI has changed the way humans farm, and how dramatically these changes have increased agricultural yields.

If Africa is to meet its own food consumption needs, and also produce sufficient excess to participate in global agricultural value chains, “we need to understand and harness the benefits of AI in agriculture in Africa too,” says Wayne Spaumer, Product Specialist for Precision Agriculture, Sub-Sahara Africa at John Deere.

Basic machine sensing has advanced to a stage where agricultural equipment provides a wide range of information on machine operation, inputs, quantities and conditions. Beyond sensing and reporting, however, modern agricultural equipment uses data to support learning, “allowing machines to advise farmers on best practice while also informing future decision-making,” says Spaumer.

What has made this machine intelligence possible?

Firstly, a combine harvester can, today, measure the quantity of material it is harvesting while also recording its quality and weight. At the same time, it can calculate the rate of harvesting, yield per hectare, area cut verses area remaining, predicting time of completion while also informing on the condition of the machines’ mechanical and electronic systems. The machine will also report on how clean the material is and make automatic adjustments to ensure optimal performance. All this information is recorded on the machine and is available to the farmer or operator in real-time as he or she harvests.

Secondly, this information, in the case of a John Deere machine for example, is also housed on the John Deere cloud-based platform. The platform hosts a programme on which individual farmers can open an Operation Center for their farm. On each personalised Operation Center farmers can combine the data transmitted from their machine with the farmer’s own historical and other operational data. Each day more data is added to the Operation Center as the machine works. Any other intelligent machines that the farmer might have also add information to the programme.

But then a third thing also happens.

While the farmers’ machines cumulatively provide a lot of information by themselves, all these machines do not have a view of the farmer’s supplier universe or broader value chain. To get around this, farmers are able to authorise trusted third-party suppliers to share and add additional data to their personalised Operation Center. Typically, this data includes intelligence on; fertilizer, seeds, soil, field surveys, GIS crop imagery, weather, diseases, market prices and any other third-party data relevant to the farmer, his farm, particular crop or specific field.

Once all this information is loaded onto the farmer’s Operations Center in the cloud, “the site is suddenly empowered to plan, monitor and analyse,” says Spaumer.

In short, the real power of AI lies in the new reality that, today, a farmer’s agricultural equipment ‘talking to’ trusted partners can actually, “provide a wider and better-informed view of the farmer’s operation and business – and what he should do next – than the farmer himself,” says Spaumer.

This is real AI.

The use of intelligent machines able to combine the information that they collect with a farmer’s third-party supplier data as well as satellite and broader value chain information – and even market intelligence – is making AI a reality in agricultural machines today.

While the message is clear for Africa’s commercial farmers, “the continent’s smaller-scale farmers can also start leveraging the benefits of technology by forming cooperatives to acquire intelligent machines that converse with the cloud,” says Spaumer. Contractor services supplying large groups of farmers with services in Africa could do the same. In addition, the broader agricultural value chain on the continent, “including fertiliser providers or large mills or other off-takers are also well placed, and clearly incentivised, to supply their farmer clients or suppliers with intelligent machines,” adds Spaumer. Finally, and of particular significance for Africa, the data captured by intelligent machines can also enable financial institutions to fund smaller farmers who, now, thanks to new technology, “are able to provide a data-driven view of their performance and cash flow,” adds Spaumer.

If the introduction of basic mechanisation had such a huge impact on yields historically in the developed world, the impact of intelligent machines connected to third-party data bases in the cloud is truly revolutionary for Africa.

In this sense AI holds the key to the continent’s food security, broader economic inclusion and social development, “offering African farmers a direct route to improved yields along with the insight to profitably integrate the continents’ agricultural sector into global agricultural value chains,” concludes Spaumer.


  1. Aw, this was a very nice post. In thought I would like to put in writing like this additionally ?taking time and precise effort to make an excellent article?but what can I say?I procrastinate alot and in no way seem to get one thing done.

  2. A formidable share, I just given this onto a colleague who was doing slightly analysis on this. And he in reality bought me breakfast as a result of I discovered it for him.. smile. So let me reword that: Thnx for the treat! However yeah Thnkx for spending the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love studying more on this topic. If possible, as you turn into experience, would you mind updating your blog with extra particulars? It’s highly helpful for me. Big thumb up for this blog post!

  3. There are some interesting cut-off dates in this article however I don抰 know if I see all of them heart to heart. There is some validity however I’ll take maintain opinion till I look into it further. Good article , thanks and we want more! Added to FeedBurner as nicely

  4. I simply want to say I am all new to blogging and seriously liked you’re web site. Almost certainly I’m likely to bookmark your blog . You amazingly come with superb posts. Thanks a bunch for revealing your blog site.

  5. consorcio banco do brasil automoveis simulador consorcio de veiculos caixa economica federal consorcio de carros rio de janeiro consorcio de carros usados bradesco consorcio carros usados simulador consorcio honda motos como funciona consorcio de veiculos caixa economica federal consorcio de veiculos caixa consorcio de carros banco caixa economica federal consorcio de carros chevrolet seminovos.

  6. consorcio imovel porto seguro cef consorcio imobiliario simulador consorcio de imoveis porto seguro simulacao consorcio imovel porto seguro vale a pena consorcio imobiliario contemplado londrina consorcio imovel banco do brasil simulador consorcio contemplado imovel banco do brasil consorcio itau imoveis como funciona consorcio itau simulacao consorcio imobiliario contemplado banco do brasil consorcio imovel caixa simulacao simulador consorcio imobiliario caixa economica federal.

  7. consorcios de carro de luxo carta de credito de carro de luxo carta de credito de carros de luxo carta de credito de carro de luxo carta credito de automoveis de luxo consorcio de carro de luxo carta de credito de veiculo de luxo consorcio de automoveis de luxo consorcio de automovel de luxo consorcio de automovel de luxo carta de credito de veiculo de luxo carta credito de automovel de luxo cartas credito de carro de luxo cartas credito de carro de luxo carta credito de veiculo de luxo carta de credito de carro de luxo.

  8. transferencia de consorcio imovel itau consorcio de imovel pela caixa economica federal consorcio imobiliario contemplado caixa consorcio imovel porto seguro vale a pena consorcio bradesco imoveis reclame aqui consorcio de imovel porto seguro e bom consorcio itau simulador motos consorcio de imoveis porto seguro e confiavel consorcio banco do brasil imoveis tabela consorcio imobiliario santander tabela consorcio imoveis porto seguro consorcio imobiliario caixa simulador.

  9. como funciona o consorcio de imoveis da caixa economica consorcio imobiliario bradesco prime como funciona consorcio imobiliario santander consorcio de imoveis porto seguro reclame aqui consorcio imobiliario contemplado londrina simulador consorcio imovel caixa economica federal consorcio imobiliario bradesco para construcao consorcio imobiliario porto seguro consorcio imobiliario contemplado consorcio imovel itau simulacao consorcio imobiliario contemplado londrina consorcio imobiliario bradesco telefone.

  10. An impressive share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a colleague who had been doing a little research on this. And he in fact bought me breakfast simply because I discovered it for him… lol. So let me reword this…. Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending time to discuss this subject here on your web site.

  11. That is the precise weblog for anybody who desires to find out about this topic. You understand a lot its virtually arduous to argue with you (not that I really would want匟aHa). You definitely put a new spin on a subject thats been written about for years. Nice stuff, just great!

  12. Hello, I believe your web site could possibly be having internet browser compatibility issues. When I take a look at your web site in Safari, it looks fine but when opening in IE, it’s got some overlapping issues. I simply wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other than that, wonderful blog!

  13. I blog frequently and I truly thank you for your information. This great article has truly peaked my interest. I am going to book mark your blog and keep checking for new details about once a week. I subscribed to your RSS feed as well.

  14. I¡¦ll right away grab your rss feed as I can’t to find your e-mail subscription hyperlink or newsletter service. Do you have any? Kindly permit me realize so that I could subscribe. Thanks.

  15. My husband and i got now fulfilled John managed to conclude his basic research through the ideas he got while using the site. It is now and again perplexing just to possibly be freely giving guides that people might have been selling. And now we see we have got the writer to give thanks to for this. The most important illustrations you have made, the straightforward site menu, the relationships you will help foster – it’s all excellent, and it is aiding our son in addition to the family know that that situation is cool, and that’s exceedingly important. Thanks for everything!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here