Hack4Farming Nairobi 2016: Inspiring Technological Intelligence for Seed Companies

Aug 02, 2016

Nairobi, Kenya (31 July 2016) - Over 70 participants, including data analysts, computer programmers, developers, seed company representatives, and stakeholders, came together at a three-day hackathon to explore digital solutions to address challenges faced by East African seed companies.

The Hack4Farming Nairobi 2016 Hackathon (July 29-31) was hosted by aWhere, Inc at Nailab in Nairobi, Kenya with support from event partners the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), iHub and IOTA.

The event was the most recent of aWhere’s ongoing Hack4Farming hackathon series and focused on the incorporation of technology and agricultural intelligence into East African seed companies to benefit the businesses and their customers.

Each Hack4Farming event concept is unique, and each has different aims, all within a broader goal of supporting and encouraging the development of agriculture technology and facilitating the collaboration between local tech talent and agricultural experts.

The hackathon kicked off on Friday with presentations by East African seed companies, ICT representatives, and event partners.  A Q&A panel with seed company representatives followed, providing participants an opportunity to engage the seed company representatives, many of whom served as mentors to the hackathon teams over the next two days.

John Freeman, co-founder of Agriledger, tirelessly provided mentorship and guidance to all seven of the teams. “I have been impressed by the concepts the teams developed in such a short time. While the contest focused on helping seed providers, the teams realized the importance and the need to focus on smallholder farmers as well. This idea is close to my heart, as smallholder farmers are the core of agricultural success. The teams have impressed me with their skill, dedication and drive and I wish them all the best.” 

At the end of the three days, a team of five judges chose the winners based on the strength of the concept solution, the sustainability of its implementation and viability of the business model.

Team MbeguBora was announced the winner of the $2000 USD 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 was also awarded a special prize of $1000 USD for being the best example of big data integration, by designing 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.

“Hackathons are a very good setting for brainstorming and testing ideas and concepts quickly, especially if they are organized around addressing challenges within a specific context. There is great potential for solving problems in the agricultural sector with the use of technology and creativity. Technological developments are helping to improve supply chain operations for farmers and agricultural businesses. I think tech and digital innovation is the next area of focus for start-up development in Kenya,” said hackathon judge John Karanja, Founder of BitHub Africa.

All hackathon participants have been encouraged to continue to develop their concepts from the hackathon to have a lasting impact on the local agriculture sector. aWhere has teamed with iHub, a startup incubator in Nairobi, to provide a post-event “startup boot camp” and mentorship program, slated to begin in August.

“Solutions that are innovative, sustainable and scalable will continue to be required as we aim to solve challenges in agricultural development.  aWhere and our partners understand and appreciate the impact better information can have when working to improve issues such as food security or how to enhance the livelihoods of farmers and others working in this sector. While Hack4Farming is a global initiative, we strive to have local impacts. These events must continue to involve local partners and participants to be successful,” said Courtney Cohen, Client Engagement Manager, aWhere.

To learn more about Hack4Farming and this event, visit http://www.hack4farming.com/

About aWhere

Founded in 1999, aWhere collects and analyses over a billion points of data from around the globe each day to create unprecedented visibility and insight known as Agricultural Intelligence, critical decision making from farm level through to national policy.  http://www.awhere.com/

About AATF

The African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) is a not-for-profit organisation that facilitates and promotes public/private partnerships for the access and delivery of appropriate proprietary agricultural technologies for use by resource-poor smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa. www.aatf-africa.org

About iHub

Founded in 2010, the iHub exists to catalyse the growth of the Kenyan tech community. It does this by supporting startups, connecting people and surfacing information. The iHub is the first such space in Kenya and has spurred a revolution in the tech ecosystem across the African continent. http://ihub.co.ke/

About IOTA

IOTA is a brand new technology which enables transactional settlement, as well as data transfers, for IoT devices.  As such, it is the cutting edge solution for interoperability in IoT, which opens up a plethora of new opportunities. https://www.iotatoken.com/