Call for Expressions of Interest – Artificial Intelligence for Agriculture and Food Systems (AI4AFS) Innovation Research Network


A. Background
With the current geometric rise in Africa’s population estimated to reach about 2.6 billion by 2050 and a growth rate of more than 2.5% p.a. (Population of Africa, 2019), it becomes imperative that agriculture and food systems (AFS) are reviewed to embrace innovative approaches for sustaining and improving the system from production to utilization. One of the most promising ways for achieving this target is through science, technology and innovation (STI) (Ozor and Urama, 2013; UNCTAD, 2017). STI is recognized as a means for achieving the sustainable development goal (SDG) 2 (End hunger). Artificial Intelligence (AI), which is the capacity of a machine to perform cognitive functions associated with human minds, such as perceiving, reasoning, learning, interacting with the environment, solving problems, and even exercising creativity (Manyika et al., 2017), stands out as one of the emerging technologies with a great potential to transform the AFS and ensure that all aspects of food security including food availability, access, utilization and stability are achieved even for small-scale farm enterprises in Africa. The introduction of AI for AFS is enabled by other technological advances such as big data, robotics, machine learning (ML), Internet of Things (IoT), availability of affordable sensors and cameras, drone technology, and even wide-scale internet coverage on geographically dispersed fields (Eli-Chukwu, 2019). Despite the
growth of movements applying ML, IoT, and AI, among other tools to solve the AFS challenges, it remains necessary to identify how these tools may best benefit Africa under its peculiar circumstances.

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