#HackAgainstHunger/ Africa Hackathon Report
On 19-20 August 2018, FAO and Rwanda ICT Chamber hosted #HackAgainstHunger/Africa in Kigali, Rwanda to identify and develop youth-led innovative business models and digital services to unlock the largely untapped reservoir of youth employment.
The innovation challenge brought together 24 young entrepreneurs from 7 countries of Africa with solid proposals to transform the food and agriculture sector and generate economic growth.
The hackathon was a side event of FAO’s Regional Conference on Youth Employment and ICTs in Food and Agriculture as a Solid Solution for Ending Hunger held at the Kigali Convention Centre in Rwanda on 20-21 August 2018.
About #HackAgainstHunger - is a worldwide effort of the Food Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to find innovative solutions and to promote entrepreneurship to address challenges around food and agriculture and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), tackling cross-cutting themes, such as youth employment and climate change. By hosting open innovation challenges, FAO aims to transform ideas into value by identifying and developing digital youth-led start-ups and services and providing expert public and private sector mentorship to young innovators.
The #HackAgainstHunger/Africa background
In July 2018, FAO’s IT Division launched an open innovation challenge to find the most promising, bold tech solutions to tackle the growing challenge of youth in Africa’s food and agriculture sector.
Over 100 proposals from 22 countries of Africa were received from young entrepreneurs in order to participate in the hackathon.
FAO selected 24 finalists from 7 countries who presented the most original, sustainable, and impactful digital innovations. Young entrepreneurs and hackers from Benin, Uganda, Zambia, Cameroon, Nigeria, Senegal, and Rwanda came together in Kigali for 2 days to accelerate their ideas alongside FAO and public and private sector experts at ICT Chamber’s KLab.
FAO, Rwanda ICT Chamber and the Ministry of Agriculture opened the event with background on the diverse challenges faced by food and agriculture in Africa and the impact of digital innovation. FAO’s IT Division provided a technical overview of FAO’s work in digital Innovation and the scale up of successful projects to other countries.
During the 2-day hackathon, the 24 hackers benefited from the specific know-how and skill sets of experts in IT development, food and agriculture, business model canvas and pitching, culminating in a final pitch session at the Kigali Convention Centre.
A jury panel of FAO experts and African entrepreneurs selected the top 3 winners who presented the most innovative, scalable, impactful and financially sustainable proposals in the thematic areas of youth employment and ICTs in food and agriculture.
Africa has the agricultural potential not only to feed itself, but also to grow a surplus to support global food security. Nevertheless, agriculture in Africa currently stands at the crossroads of persistent food shortages compounded by climate change threats and stagnant employment opportunities, particularly for youth. At the same time, the population trends suggest that the number of young people entering Africa’s working-age population will be rising for years to come.
While the digital revolution is rapidly shaping farming and the livelihoods of people in a positive way in Africa, more progress is needed to bridge the rural digital divide and to generate youth employment opportunities in Africa. Today’s youth represent a rapidly increasing working-age population that have the potential to generate economic growth and even transformation across Africa. There is a critical need to actively spark this transformation by seeking and supporting youth-led and youth-focused initiatives that leverage technology and digital services to respond to some of the toughest challenges faced by African youth today.
Digital innovation and the use of ICTs will prove essential to unlock Africa’s agri-business, to bridge the rural divide, to support smallholders and family farmers, fishers, pastoralists, and forest-dwellers. Innovative technologies and approaches can increase productivity and profitability, improve consumption of nutritious food, empower youth and women access to information, technology and markets and ensure that agriculture practices are environmentally sustainable for future generations
Driven by youth, innovative business models and new technologies have the potential to unlock the largely untapped reservoir of employment opportunities in food and agriculture production. Yet, the growing youth population in Africa is turning away from agriculture. Through open innovation challenges such as Hack Against Hunger, FAO aims to create the enabling environment for young entrepreneurs to transform employment in food and agriculture in Africa into a force for economic growth by harnessing the entrepreneurial skills and spirit of the youth and equipping them with innovative technologies.
The first winning team will spend 1 week in FAO’s Headquarters in Rome, Italy to technically enhance their digital service with FAO’s IT Development team for 2 days and present their innovations at the FAO International Symposium on Agricultural Innovation for Family Farmers: Unlocking the potential of agricultural innovation to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals from 21-23 November 2018.
The second and third winning teams will nominate one representative each to present their innovations at the FAO International Symposium on Agricultural Innovation for Family Farmers: Unlocking the potential of agricultural innovation to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals at FAO Headquarters from 21-23 November 2018.
AgriPredict : Artificial Intelligence (AI) platform to forecast the probability of pest invasions such as Fall Army Worm (FAW) and detect the presence of such pests and diseases. The platform will provide users, such as smallholder farmers and commercial farmers, extension services, NGOs, relevant Government institutions, environmental agencies, with adequate information to take preventive measures to forestall or limit potential damage to crops. The platform predicts adverse weather patterns such as drought, floods and cold fronts and other conditions that favor FAW outbreaks, to arm the users with information on how to take preventive or responsive action. The information is easily accessible via web services, features phones (USSD and SMS), smartphones and tablets (Android and iOS), and social media chat bot (Facebook). It will have both voice and visual features to overcome digital literacy barriers or persons with disabilities. The platform is strengthened by a social media campaign #coolfarmers to attract youth to agriculture, crowd-source information from the public, and increase communication and capacity through peer-to-peer exchanges as well as top-down information shared via this group.
STES Group:Digital service using Internet of Things (IoT) to gather real-time data from the farm and allowing the farmer to visualize it on an online dashboard using a smartphone or PC. Using a sensor designed and built by the team, the irrigation system is automated and can be turned on and off remotely by the farmer. On the dashboard, the farmer can regularly keep track of the weather forecasts, the real-time parameter changes and can irrigate accordingly. The sensor can also collect pH data regularly to enable the farmer to the use of fertilizers. Sensor nodes for the wireless sensor networks push data to the cloud accessible remotely via internet. The technology helps farmers interact and act on the soil parameters, predict agricultural yield, plant with a target to produce crops that can satisfy international market standards and generate more employment opportunities through increased agricultural productivity.
Afririce Agrobusiness:Mobile application to optimize the harvesting and post-harvest operations of paddy ride. The service will be available to all stakeholders along the rice value chain in Africa through a mobile application names AppRice, which makes it possible to follow and evaluate the operations of harvests and post-harvest. The application (iOS and Android) will provide accurate information on estimating rice yields based on the capacity of the machines to evaluate the quantities of paddy in relation to the speed of the thresher and to track the number of hours of work. The service will collect and provide all the information needed to optimize agricultural production taking into account the key parameters of the field. It will enable monitoring and evaluation of threshing and winnowing to resolve conflicts between the owners of harvest and threshing and winnowing operators.
The other participating team profiles were;
- MiNADER ( Cameroon)
- Fapp (Uganda)
- Sunu Agri (Senegal)
- Freshmarte (Nigeria)
- KIZALAB Agri (Rwanda)
This report is re-published on e-Agriculture for informational purposes and on behalf of the FAO CIO Team and the organisers of this hackathon.