An aWhere team recently participated in the official launching of the Market-Led User Owned ICT 4Ag Enabled Information Service (MUIIS) in Kampala, Uganda. This new initiative funded by The Netherlands’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs, seeks to improve the productivity of 350,000 Ugandan farmers by providing them with weather data, agronomic information, and financial services.
Smallholder farmers across the developing world have an unprecedented amount of hyper-local agriculture information available to them, yet barriers of language and connectivity mean that countless opportunities to make better farm management choices are lost every day. Collaborative networks of value chain actors and technology experts native to developing regions are best situated to overcome these barriers, but how can we best put the information they need – weather data and agronomic tips that increase productivity – in their hands?
aWhere sought to answer this question in a 3-day training and hackathon event, Hack4Farming. Together with co-host Nafundi, aWhere representatives Hanna Camp and Eskinder Zewdu planned Hack4Farming and facilitated the event in Nairobi from October 16-18, 2015. The 53 attending hackers - a mixed group of Nairobi-based software developers and representatives of agricultural development organizations in East Africa – learned about available data resources and formed teams to hack a broad challenge: Leverage an existing communications technology to improve incomes for smallholder farmers.
Together, teams shared experiences and expertise, brainstormed ideas, and chose tools to create prototypes to prove the viability of their idea. We were impressed and excited by the creativity from all the participants, who used aWhere’s Agricultural Intelligence API Platform, along with other APIs, coding resources, and mentoring provided by The Dev School and Africa’s Talking. Teams worked late into Saturday night and convened early Sunday morning, rushing to perfect their ideas in time.
The teams presented to an expert panel of judges, who awarded the top prize to FinAgrow, a prototype mobile platform for farmers to develop business plans with reported crop production and seasonal forecasts. FinAgrow would then connect farmers to banks and local credit institutions where they could use their business plans to verify creditworthiness and receive loans.
If you want to learn more about the hackathon, head over to the aWhere Developer Community Blog, where we’ve highlighted the top three finalists here, or review all of the team presentations at the Hack4Farming Github page. We are thrilled to be part of growing an innovative network of African software developers and agriculture development professionals. There is no doubt that in a rapidly-changing global climate, they will ultimately be the ones to solve local problems using the same API and technology resources available to Silicon Valley, but using local knowledge and remaining sensitive to local needs.
African farmers have a demand for better information. Farmers and growers globally are faced with increasing weather variability and uncertainty while having to contend with increasing demand for producing quality food products. The challenge is to help farmers increase production, increase incomes and become active contributors to the local, regional and global food supply chain and economy.Read More
Last week I was fortunate enough to participate in the inaugural SOLVE conference, held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In the words of the conference organizers, ‘Solve’s mission is to inspire extraordinary people to work together to solve some of the world’s toughest problems.’ The event was organized around four pillars: Fuel, Make, Cure and Learn.Read More
Insight from GSMA Mobile 360 Africa Conference, Cape Town, October 7-9, 2015
There were several key insights to the demand for agricultural intelligence that can be inferred from this recent international conference on mobile communication held in Cape Town, October 7-9. The first is that we should expect in the near future, universal access to not only mobile communications, but also to broadband data and the internet, even in remote areas of Sub-Saharan Africa.Read More
Last week, the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) released a decrease in their domestic orange production estimate for 2015/16; this follows their reduction in 2014/15 output as well, so the orange juice futures market may be moving towards a supportive pricing structure in 2016. The chart below (from barchart.com) shows activity over the last five days for November-15 futures; with today’s trading exhibiting a 6% increase from yesterday.Read More