The U.S. Agency for International Development, Land O’Lakes International Development, and the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research have released names of six winners of the Feed the Future Fall Armyworm Tech Prize at the AfricaCom conference in South Africa today.
The prize, launched in March 2018, sought 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.
Following a competitive co-creation and evaluation process and the field-testing of prototypes, USAID and its partners awarded prizes worth $450,000 to six organizations with digital solutions that will provide information to smallholder farmers and those who support them to identify, treat and track the incidence of fall armyworm.
Details shows that 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.
Also, a $75,000 each was awarded 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.
Equally a $50,000 each went 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.
The prize received 228 entries from organizations around the world, 80 percent of which were based in Africa. A diverse panel of global experts working in agriculture, technology entrepreneurship, and impact investment judged the entries and made final selections. The winning entries are working with smallholder farmers in Nigeria, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda and Ghana, with the potential to scale solutions to other countries.