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Meet The New Hub for Responsible AI for Agriculture and Food Systems Innovation Research in Africa

October 28, 2021

Africa’s population is expected to reach about 2.6 billion by 2050. This will require an increase in food production by up to 70% to fit the need of the population, a serious challenge for the agriculture and food systems. Such requirement, in a context of resource scarcity, climate change, COVID-19 pandemic, and very harsh socioeconomic conjecture, may be easier to attain with the application of emerging technologies and innovations such as artificial intelligence (AI) to leapfrog the transformations required in the sector. 

The main objective of this initiative is to advance the responsible development, deployment, and scaling of homegrown AI research and innovations to tackle pressing challenges in agriculture and food systems in Africa. This will be accomplished through setting-up, managing, and supporting an innovation research network on AI for agriculture and food systems.

This network will consist of 6-10 innovation research projects that will develop, deploy, test, and seek to scale responsible and African-led artificial intelligence research and innovations. This research will deepen our understanding of how to develop, deploy, and scale responsible AI innovations for sustainable agriculture and food systems in Africa. The project will also seek to use these lessons learned to inform African and international AI policy and practice conversations.

After considering many applications, we are excited to share that a consortium of three organisations; The African Technology Policy Studies Network (ATPS), ICIPE and Kumasi Hive will set up and manage the innovation research network aimed at bringing together AI researchers in Africa to tackle the challenge of food security in Africa.

“On behalf of the ATPS-led consortium, I am excited to partner with the IDRC and Sida in this great and new initiative aimed at tackling the persistent food and nutrition insecurity in Africa using responsible artificial intelligence (AI) technologies and innovations. As the premier science, technology and innovation (STI) research, policy and practice organization in Africa, the ATPS Network will lead the consortium to mobilize both human and material resources and networks to develop, domesticate and deploy AI technologies and innovations along the agriculture and food systems for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) No. 2 (End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture), the ‘Africa We Want’ under the African Union Agenda 2063, alongside other regional and national development targets in the agricultural sector”

Dr. Nicholas Ozor, Executive Director, African Technology Policy Studies Network (ATPS)

For this project, ATPS will work hand in hand with two organisations; ICIPE whose mission is to help alleviate poverty, ensure food security and improve the overall health status of peoples of the tropics, by developing and extending management tools and strategies for harmful and useful arthropods, while preserving the natural resource base through research and capacity building and, Kumasi Hive, a hub in Ghana that exists to support entrepreneurs and innovators of all types, particularly to encourage social impact businesses to develop innovative physical products and processing methods.

ATPS will lead in research synthesis, knowledge mobilization and training of network grantees specifically in the translation of knowledge outputs into policy products such as policy briefs for sustained impacts.

We are looking forward to the innovative solutions that will come out of this network.

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This network is supported by AI4D Africa, a four year program CAD 20M program funded by IDRC & Sida. Learn more about the program here

Featured image: Photo by Lotte Löhr on Unsplash