Agribusiness

Smart Farms-Remote Farm Monitoring system

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agriculture-usecase

Every farmer understands the importance of monitoring the crops and/or animals in the farm. It is important to monitor crop growth, field environment, and farming operations in order to increase the agricultural productivity and to promote efficient management. With the growing green revolution in progress the world of agriculture and smart farms are taking a leading role in ensuring efficient, innovative, dynamic and eco-friendly farms. Farmers are now looking for smart ways to monitor and manage their crops remotely.

Farmers over the years have experienced problems related to water usage and supply, energy supply and the demerit of distance of accessing these resources. The importance of monitoring the water usage in farms is increasing with farmers seeking technology that will help them improve their agricultural productivity.

@iLabAfrica Research Centre based in Strathmore University in collaboration with IBM Kenya, and Oregon State University together with Trans-African Hydro-Meteorological Observatory (TAHMO) intend to come together to develop an intelligent farm Management system that leverages Internet of Things(IoT) architecture through remote sensing and low power wide area networks as well data analytics. The overall concept of the system is to be able to build deeper analytics that can provide more information in a predictive model to help farmers understand their farms in terms of soil composition and changes, water usage and evaporation rates as well as the changing weather parameters that can visually present an insightful trend on the changing climate. This project collaboratively explores a way of remote monitoring that could guarantee farmers an easy way to understand various parameters such as temperature, humidity, soil moisture and water levels in various tanks on their farms among other parameters. This is expected to provide a smarter approach to farming, referred to as Precision Farming.

The data collected in the Internet of Things (IoT) stack in this project so far includes temperature, humidity, water level (rate of water evaporation also monitored through the use of evaporimeters –provided by Oregon State University), battery level and  the signal strength of the data transmitting devices.

To reliably provide this solution, the project is expected to use GSM/GPRS and Long Range (LoRa) connectivity to achieve the desired Machine-to-Machine data exchange between the farms and the cloud since the farming areas envisioned in these concept are located in rural areas. These areas experience poor signal strength even on the cellular network. Hence, the need to also gather data on the signal strength of the network.

Currently, two IoT devices of this kind have been deployed to a test farm in Kitengela, south of Nairobi. The devices are currently powered by mini solar-panels and continually transmit data at an interval of 15 minutes. These devices make of the GSM/GPRS technology as at now. The project as is, has proven to be working and data can be relayed from the farm to both a web and a mobile interface through IBM’s Cloudant database. The information gathered provides real-time information on the parameters described to the farmer.

The next step of development will be to  deploy the solution in more farms and build a low cost, low maintenance weather station that can be used by farmers and also provide an irrigation service that can intelligently be measured and remotely actuated. Alternative Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) communication technology, in this case, LoRa will also be implemented to provide a more stable and reliable service of transmitting these data.

@iLabAfrica IoT Manager and project lead Mr. Leonard Mabele mentioned that “with more funding, we can reach out to more farmers in remote areas and acquire more devices for deployment, mass testing and implementation. This will also allow us to reach out to IoT security experts to enable us to not only develop a working solution but a securely tested one as well. This projects will see us uplift the process and yields of farmers and in return build their communities.

For more information about this click HERE

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The World Bank Agritech Challenge

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AGRIII

The World Bank AgriTech Challenge, powered by Nest, is the region’s first open innovation programme focused on agribusiness. We’re calling everyone from trailblazing startups and industry veterans to visionary teams from universities to apply*. This is your opportunity to build an actionable solution that could transform agriculture in Kenya!

Facilitated by the World Bank and Nest, selected teams will work closely with one of the region’s leading agribusiness companies to conceptualize, co-develop and prototype a product to alleviate acute challenges in the Kenyan agribusiness value chain.

* Note: The programme is open only to Kenya-based teams

What World Bank is trying to solve

As one of the largest contributors to Kenya’s economy, there is tremendous opportunity to drive value creation and impact through innovation in agribusiness. The World Bank AgriTech Challenge aims to collaboratively prototype solutions that drive productivity, accountability and operational insight in the agribusiness value chain. Here are some of the pressing challenges we’d like to work together to solve:

  • How can we digitize the way in which produce is tracked from farm to shelf?To a large extent, tracking of produce and shipment is done manually and on paper-based systems. Through this programme, we hope to leverage platforms that can digitize the tracking process across the value chain, centralize data & record keeping, and mitigate the risk of errors & tampering.
  • How can we facilitate seamless communication between farmers and field technicians? Farmers (outgrowers) and the staff of large agribusiness companies communicate on an ad-hoc basis over phone calls and/or through SMS. Is there a way to streamline and structure the communication using tech based solutions to better manage the value chain and resolve operational issues?
  • How can we digitally monitor farm productivity and wastage, and drive insights to enhance yield? Currently, the analysis of farm productivity relies on manually synthesizing fragmented information which slows down the process of making sourcing and packaging decisions. Can we develop a “real-time” solution that allows for efficient analytics of farm performance?
  • How can we digitize the monitoring of product quality, packaging and shipment across the value chain?Demand from export markets is susceptible to short term fluctuation. Is there a way to deploy an efficient solution that can track age, quality and storage of produce to allow large agribusiness exporters to intelligently manage shipments and reduce waste.

About the Programme

The World Bank AgriTech Challenge is the first open innovation programme that bridges Kenyan techpreneurs with a vertically integrated agribusiness value chain. The 2-month long co-creation activity will include integration-focused workshops, one-on-one interactions with industry veterans, and structured product development. Each team will aim to develop a prototype or customize a solution in partnership with experienced operational professionals. These will be then presented to senior executives and investors at a Demo Day for potential commercial adoption and scale.

We’re looking for multidisciplinary teams that are passionate about AgriTech. You could be a startup, a promising SME, a team of agribusiness / logistics / supply chain technologists, or even a bunch of college students with a compelling idea and the ability to execute.

Benefits

  • Accelerated product development:A chance to work with a leading, established industry player to build, test and potentially scale your solution
  • Resources: Access to the insights, internal infrastructure and operational excellence developed by the World Bank and one of the region’s most successful agribusiness corporates
  • Mentorship: One-on-one guidance from agribusiness veterans, integration consultants and startup capacity building experts
  • Intros to senior executives and investors: A platform to present a your solution to senior industry executives and quality investors

Timeline

Have another idea? Suggest a challenge that needs solving in your application.

Applications close July 25, 2017. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis, so the sooner you submit the better!

Apply Now 

Team Convifarm Wins the Strathmore- Waterloo Inaugural Agribusiness Mobile Tech Challenge

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The Winners Convifarm with Dr Victor Kyalo, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Communication and Information

WINNERS: Team Convifarm with Dr. Victor Kyalo (PS, Ministry of Information and Communications)

Six fervent teams of university students across the country, took part in an exciting 1 year incubation programme courtesy of a strong collaboration between Strathmore University and University of Waterloo. The six who were shortlisted from a group of 45 teams comprised of; Mkulima, Kilimo Watch, Convifarm, Greenup_africa, eVet, and Agribora. Greenup_africa won 2nd place while Convifarm bagged the winning price.

The challenge aimed at producing solutions that would address agricultural issues in Sub-Saharan Africa using mobile and social networking technologies. Mobile technologies are transforming sub-Saharan Africa through providing individuals in the region with previously unimaginable access to information and, as a result, significantly impacting the economies of the region. This has opened opportunities to develop and improve social and economic systems in ways that can truly impact the ‘bottom-of-the-pyramid’ in Africa. Agriculture was chosen due to the mainstay of at least 80% of the Kenyan population and therefore has a direct impact on the bottom of the pyramid masses.

“The University of Waterloo is rich on entrepreneurship, it is the one reason we were happy to join hands with them. While we chose agriculture because it is one of the businesses that provides a large revenue to the country,” Dr. Sevilla, Director at @ILabAfrica Research Centre and @IBiz Incubation Centre, explained while giving his welcoming remarks.

The business incubation was facilitated by the use of a Virtual Technology Platform – a CONRAD University of Waterloo initiative and the first of its kind to be used in Africa. The platform aims at enhancing opportunities for entrepreneurs with novel ideas to benefit from training and funding that will launch sustainable enterprises. The program also aligns to the running policy of the Jubilee government on entrepreneurs’ empowerment. This programme was also officially launched during the awarding ceremony.

Dr. Victor Kyalo – representing CS Ministry of Information and Communications, while giving the key note address lauded the students for engaging in a virtual incubation initiative that is different. He also stressed out the fact that there are numerous opportunities for information capital to be exploited in the country and such a step is commendable.

The winning team Convifarm, comprised of two students – Norman Muga from Strathmore University pursuing a course in Bachelor of Business Information Technology (BBIT) and Mburu Njunge from Kenyatta University pursuing a Bachelor of Science (BSCs) in dry land agriculture and enterprise development. Convifarm was created to bring convenience to farmers through mobile agriculture in accessing information and services across diverse enterprises along the agricultural value chain.

The team wins a fully paid trip to Waterloo, Ontario Canada where they get an opportunity of observing the Waterloo eco-system of venture creation, and to meet individuals and groups that can further assist in developing their idea.

The second team Greenup_africa comprised of three students – Peter Okwara from University of Nairobi (UoN), Samuel Kamau from Jomo Kenyatta University of Technology (JKUAT) and Hiral Shah from USIU. Greenup_africa connects farmers to farmers and eventually farmers to buyers. It helps farmers reduce the production process by cutting the middlemen and brokers. The team hopes to scale this application to the counties, helping the grassroots farmers to have control on whatever they produce by stabilizing the market and stabilizing the prices.

2nd Winners GreenUp Africa with Dr Joseph Sevilla and Alfred Gathogo

2nd Place: Team Greenup_Africa with Dr. Sevilla(Director @iLabAfrica) and Mr. Gathogo(SEDC Lectrurer)

The team win the option of participating in the Enterprise Development Program offered by the Strathmore Enterprise Development Centre (SEDC) worth Kshs 480,000. Team members will have the chance of meeting seasoned entrepreneurs and trainers enabling the team to practically implement their business model and grow their enterprise. The team was also given the opportunity to engage the county government administration through Ms Anna Othoro who represented the office, on potential funding options for their application.

We thank all the teams for taking part in this competition and all stakeholders for the support that they offered.

 

Strathmore – Waterloo challenge Awards

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Mobile Technology Challenge and Virtual Incubation Program

strathwaterloo

The University of Waterloo, Canada, and Strathmore University, Kenya, are collaborating to support technology incubation programs in Kenya focused on the use of mobile and social media technologies to find solutions to socio-economic problems affecting large numbers of the population.

Mobile technologies are transforming sub-Saharan Africa. They are providing individuals in the region with previously unimaginable access to information and, as a result, significantly impacting the economies of the region. This has opened opportunities to develop and improve social and economic systems in ways that can truly impact the ‘bottom-of-the-pyramid’ in Africa.

The two Universities have conducted an agricultural mobile application challenge that is meant to address challenges that farmers encounter in the agricultural sector. Agriculture was chosen since this is the mainstay of at least 80% of the Kenyan population and therefore has a direct impact on the bottom of the pyramid masses.

The challenge kicked off in January of this year with a total of 45 teams applying. 28 were shortlisted in the first round. In the second round 10 were further shortlisted and then a final selection of six teams. These top six teams have undergone a vigorous incubation program that was conducted by the Strathmore University team and the University of Waterloo, Conrad Business School, Virtual Incubation Program team.

The business incubation was facilitated by use of a virtual technology platform. This is the first of its kind in Africa and it will further enhance opportunities for entrepreneurs with novel ideas to benefit from training and funding to launch sustainable enterprises. The Virtual Incubation Program aligns to the running policy of the Jubilee government on entrepreneurs’ empowerment.

There will be a ceremony to launch the virtual incubation program. During this ceremony the six finalist teams will be acknowledged. The teams represent various universities from the entire country, namely,

Masinde Muliro University, Egerton University, Nairobi University, Kenyatta University, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, United States International University Africa and Strathmore University.  The prizes for the first two teams will be:

  • The first prize is a fully paid one-week fellowship at the University of Waterloo, Ontario Canada
  • Second prize is a fully paid admittance to the 6-months Strathmore Enterprise Development Program run by the Strathmore Enterprise Development Centre (SEDC).

The ceremony is scheduled for Friday 22nd January 2016 and will take place @iBizAfrica, Strathmore University, 5th Floor Student Center.

Mobile Solutions for Small Holder Women Farmers

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TechnoServe, the mastermind behind this competition,  works with enterprising people in the  developing world to build competitive farms, businesses and industries. It is a nonprofit organization that develops business solutions to poverty by linking people to information, capital and markets. Their work is rooted in the idea that given the opportunity, hardworking men and women in even the poorest places can generate income, jobs and wealth for their families and communities.

Vodafone, USAID and TechnoServe believe that  mobile agriculture solutions have the potential to improve the livelihoods of rural men and women by dramatically improving their access to income and finance, increasing transparency and reducing transaction processes, driving productivity through increased information, and building resilience for times of crisis.

The aim of the competition is to incubate winning mobile solutions that serve the interests and needs of farmers. It will be held at Strathmore University and winning solutions will be incubated by iBizAfrica. The incubator hubs great business ideas responding to societal needs.

The Competition

Participants are meant to come up with sustainable, innovative and mobile solutions to challenges faced by women farmers.

Application  

  • Deadline: 27th August 2015.
  • The competition will run between 28th – 29th August 2015, when the winners will be announced and presented with their prizes.
  • The innovations to be considered will revolve around financial Inclusion and value addition in agriculture apps.

Participants

  • Mobile Application Developers and Computer Specialists(ussd,sms, android,web)
  • Graphic Designers and Related Specialists.
  • Business and Marketing Specialists
  • Students and Professionals are both qualified to apply

Solutions

  • Virtual platform to empower women farmers
  • Financial activity tracker.
  • Capacity building, etc

Prizes

  • 2 months incubation at @iBizAfrica
  • Free domain and hosting
  • Company registratio
  • Training on Digital advertising at @iLabAfrica
  • Ticket to exhibit at the Agribiz expo 2016
  • 3 months collaboration with Technoserve as a knowledge partner.

                                      For more details and how to apply to this exciting challenge, Kindly visit here