Work with farmers to innovate, attract entrepreneurs

  • 13th July 2017
  • by secretary
3 July 2017. SciDev. Work with farmers to innovate, attract entrepreneurs. Innovators need to work closely with farmers to create data and technologies that will boost sustainable agricultural growth in the global South, nutrition and data experts say.

The experts noted during the Ministerial Conference on Agriculture and Nutrition Data and 4th Agritec Africa International Exhibition in Kenya last month (14-16 June) that agricultural technologies could spur economic growth in the global South to benefit the people through rapid job creation, improved food security, nutrition and health.

“There is a need for a shift in new service delivery to producers through a new technological knowledge.” Dhairya Pujara (picture), Ycenter.

The meeting that was organised by Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition discussed how to effect positive changes in agriculture in the global South.

30 June 2017. A Cambridge company aiming to lift sub-Saharan farmers out of poverty by creating a market for their surplus was one of two winners in Agri-Tech East’s GROW agri-tech business plan competition. Farming Data’s mobile trading platform uses mobile money and SMS texting on a basic phone to allow smallholders and buyers to communicate and trade more effectively. Smallholders grow 50 per cent of the world’s food and 40 per cent of global food production relies on irrigation. 

GROW is the UK’s only agri-tech business plan competition, established by Agri-Tech East to
stimulate entrepreneurship in the industry. GROW was developed by Agri-Tech East to stimulate and support entrepreneurship in agriculture and horticulture.

The GROW finalists were:

  1. Agronomex – a trading platform which addresses the 4m tonnes of edible food lost before it reaches the farm gate in the UK. The London-based company considered the buy-side issues and have built logistics into the offering.
  2. DataGranary – a data management service that rewards farmers for providing data and cleans and prepares data ready for use.
  3. Farming Data – a Cambridge-start-up developing a software system that allows farmers in sub-Saharan Africa to communicate with potential buyers using SMS messaging on a basic mobile phone, creating a market for their produce.
  4. Soil for Life – a specialist soil health system which helps farmers prioritise interventions and is compatible with existing farm management packages.
  5. SoilSense – a Bristol based company developing an aerial soil moisture sensor that can provide a detailed map of the water status of a whole field in minutes.