ATPS

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Managing Organization (Hub) for Responsible Artificial Intelligence for Agriculture and Food Systems (AI4AFS) Innovation Research Network in Africa

Project Duration: 2021-2024

Principal Investigator: Dr. Nicholas Ozor  Email: nozor@atpsnet.org

Co-PIs: Dr Henri Tonnang (Icipe) and Jorge Kwadwo Appiah (Kumasi Hive)

Other partners: International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) and Kumasi Hive

Grantor: International Development Research Center (IDRC) and the Swedish International Development Agency

Grant Amount: US$ 954,456

Funding: Call for Expression of Interest on Artificial Intelligence for Agriculture and Food Systems

Project Description
Africa’s population is expected to reach about 2.6 billion by 2050. This will require an increase in agricultural and 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, is difficult to attain without the intervention of emerging technologies and innovations such as artificial intelligence (AI) to leapfrog the transformations required in the sector.

The overall 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 homegrown artificial intelligence research and innovations.

This project is part of the innovation stream of the Artificial Intelligence for Development Africa (AI4D Africa) program dedicated to a future where Africans across all regions create and use artificial intelligence to lead healthier, happier, and greener lives. AI4D Africa is co-funded by the Swedish International Development Agency and Canada’s International Development Research Centre. AI4D Africa is a four-year, CAD 20 million, partnership between Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and Sweden’s government agency for development cooperation (Sida). The program is dedicated to a future where Africans across all regions use   AI to lead happier, healthier and greener lives. Its mission is to improve the quality of life for all in Africa and beyond by partnering with Africa’s science and policy communities to leverage AI through high-quality research, responsible innovation, and strengthening talent. Seeks to address the above challenges through supporting African-led development of responsible and inclusive AI.

About the AI4AFS Hub
The ATPS, Icipe and Kumasi Hive (Consortium) (The Hub) will establish and host a network consisting 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.

Key Objectives

  1. Deepen understanding of how to develop, deploy, and scale responsible AI innovations for sustainable AFS in Africa;
  2. Build the capacity of African innovators and researchers to develop, deploy and scale responsible AI applications in AFS; and
  3. Inform African and international AI policy and practice.

Key Activities

  • Issue call for Expression of Interest (EoI)
  • Training workshop for the 15 preselected consortia:
  • Issue call for full proposal
  • Set up expert reviewers’ team
  • Engage with the selected grantees
  • Provide support to the grantees
  • Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning
  • Platforms for networking, knowledge exchange and collaborations:
  • Put in place Quality assurance mechanism
  • Data management

Methodology
This project will set up the Hub and manage it through a series of activities that will lead to the selection of suitable researchers/innovators from transdisciplinary fields and how they will be supported and managed to develop, deploy and scale responsible home-grown AI innovations for AFS development in Africa. The Hub Management Committee (HMC) will be established to review the work plan and commence implementation. The HMC, which will be the highest decision-making body for the Hub, will be comprised of the Principal Investigator (PI), one representative from each partner organizations as Co-PIs, the monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL) specialist, and the Finance Manager. The HMC will hold regular monthly online meetings to review progress with project implementation and make the necessary recommendations and adjustments. A Hub Advisory Team (HAT) made up of three experts from Africa and beyond will also be established to provide strategic support and advisory for the Hub based on their expertise and experience in the science, policy and practice of AI4AFS. Technical support will be provided to the grantees by the Hub to enable them to deliver on their objectives and targets. A MEL framework based on Learning-Based Management approach will be developed to systematically track the implementation of project activities and outputs, and measure the effectiveness of projects to determine exactly when they are on track and when changes may be needed. The Hub will create physical and virtual platforms for networking, knowledge exchange, and collaborations among the AI4AFS research network. Quality assurance mechanisms will be put in place at each step in the Hub management process to ensure transparency, credibility and equity. The HMC will ensure that these mechanisms are well established and functional throughout the project cycle.

Expected Outcomes

  1. African researchers/ innovators enabled through research infrastructure and conducive environment to engage and lead in AI4AFS
  2. Enhanced AI4AFS research networks with potential to generate new AI research and innovations for tackling pressing AFS challenges in Africa
  3. More inclusive policies and strategies for sustaining transformative change in AI4AFS based on societal felt needs

Project Outputs

  1. AI4AFS EOI Clarification Webinar Recording
  2. Responsible Artificial Intelligence for Africa’s Agriculture and Food System ATPS WORKING PAPER No. 80
  3. AI4AFS Project Implementation Brochure 2023
  4. Africai Conference 2023 Participation and Mid-Term Review and Evaluation Report
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