aWhere co-hosted a Hack4Farming event last month in Nairobi, Kenya, as part of its ongoing hackathon series. The hackathon was the second such event held by aWhere in Nairobi, after the inaugural event last October, and was hosted in the Nailab space. Around 60 participants, including developers, mentors, and representatives from seed companies, participated in the event, hosted alongside the African Agricultural Technology Foundation, iHub and IOTA.
This Hack4Farming event focused on the incorporation of technology into East African seed company businesses to benefit the seed companies and their customers. aWhere’s Data Analysts Hanna Camp and Leila Al-Hamoodah spent several months organizing the hackathon event, taking care to gather feedback and participation from East African seed companies who stood to gain from the concepts developed. With the backing of partners AATF and iHub, aWhere’s team worked to develop a hackathon concept, outline goals, identify a venue, seek out relevant event partners and host the 3-day event.
Participants represented a mix of students and employed technical professionals in software development, geospatial analysis, and business development, among others. Seven teams formed and developed solutions to assist seed companies with challenges ranging from transactional records and customer loyalty to improving seed and input transportation. Team MbeguBora (Good Seeds) received the grand prize for their idea to build web-based and mobile apps that provide services to better connect farmers to agents and seed companies, and to minimize agricultural information gaps through seed variety recommendations and plot monitoring reports. Team AgData received the Special Prize in IoT and Big Data for their proposal to implement a crop monitoring system that uses blockchain technology along with agronomic and weather data to inform farmers and seed companies how they can improve seed-related decisions.
To encourage participants to continue to develop their concepts from the hackathon and have a lasting impact on the local agriculture sector, aWhere has teamed with iHub, a startup incubator in Nairobi, to provide a “startup boot camp” and mentorship program after the hackathon event. IOTA also joined as an event partner and sponsor, seeking to encourage developers to incorporate their new blockchain technology to address agriculture challenges.
The response to the hackathon was overwhelmingly positive. Nearly 100 applicants applied to attend the event, and several individuals and organizations reached out to aWhere to volunteer their time as mentors, partners and sponsors of the event, showing the enthusiasm for this type of deep-dive into agriculture technology in Kenya. Participants were also positive about the event, with 100% of survey respondents indicating they would participate in a Hack4Farming event in the future, and over two-thirds planning to continue to develop their concept.
As the Hack4Farming series continues to evolve and take shape, aWhere’s team is identifying the role such hackathons can play in strengthening the agriculture-tech ecosystem in various regions. Hack4Farming events offer an opportunity to connect agriculture stakeholders and local technical talent to improve technological competency and applications within the context of local agriculture challenges. Each event has unique aims, but all are couched within a broader goal of supporting and encouraging the development of agriculture technology and the use of agricultural intelligence.
For more information about Hack4Farming, visit www.hack4farming.com