Agritech in Africa :The USAID Feed the Future Fall Armyworm Tech Prize comes to and end

In March 2018, I was recruited with other industry experts to be judges at the Feed the Future Fall Armyworm Tech Prize . This is a  Tech prize  by The U.S. Agency for International Development, Land O’Lakes International Development, and the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research which seeks  digital innovations that could help farmers manage the recent spread of fall armyworm — a voracious agricultural pest — in Africa.

Fall armyworm has the potential to cause an estimated $2-6 billion (USD) in maize losses alone over three years.

Last week in Capetown during the Africa com awards event the winners were announced 

USAID and its partners awarded:

  • A grand prize of $150,000 to Farm.ink, a Nairobi-based start-up that has integrated a Fall Armyworm Virtual Advisor into its Africa Farmers Club mobile service. This online group and chatbot already provides more than 150,000 farmers across Africa with farming information. The new virtual advisory feature will provide specific information on how to identify and treat fall armyworm.
  • $75,000 each to Akorion, a Ugandan agricultural technology company, for an enhanced fall armyworm diagnostic in its EzyAgric app; and to AfriFARM, an app by Project Concern International and Dimagi, a social enterprise based in Massachusetts.
  • $50,000 each to Farmerline and Henson Geodata Technologies, both Ghana-based, and the Nigerian-based eHealth Africa, to further develop early-stage mobile applications that will provide tailored information for combatting fall armyworm.

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My Final thoughts: Agritech  is a fast growing sector in Africa 

In 2017 and 2018, I was involved in a number of pitch competitions and challenges as a consultant or a judge, these were specifically around the Agriculture technology space. Startups building technology solutions that were enabling small holder farmers and the stakeholders in the agriculture space solve the problems of funding, post-harvest losses, disease prevention, access to mechanization and farming tools and access to market. Based on the innovation I am seeing in  Agri-tech[Agriculture Technology] sector, given another 5-10 years, African startups and going to absolutely own, and lead this niche. 

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