The overall objective of the AgriHack Talent programme is to promote youth ICT innovations and entrepreneurship in agriculture in Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries. It is one of CTA strategies to strengthen the involvement of youth in agriculture, through the provision of services to the sector. The ultimate objective is to contribute to the transformation of the agricultural sector and promotion of youth employment.
The AgriHack Talent initiative encompasses a series of activities including a hackathon or coding challenge, capacity building in ICT for agriculture service or product development (through awareness raising, training, incubation, and acceleration), promotion of best applications, piloting and favouring the upscale of selected e-platforms. Beneficiaries targeted are primarily youth aged between 15 and 35 years old, as defined in CTA’s youth strategy.
So far, hackathons, incubations and promotional activities have been implemented in four ACP regions: East Africa, where it was piloted in 2013; Caribbean in 2014; South Africa (national edition) in 2015 and West Africa in 2016.
About 600 ACP young innovators and entrepreneurs have been involved in the program and have benefited from improved awareness and capacity, on ICT entrepreneurship for agriculture. The services offered through one of the best platforms developed are reaching about 400,000 farmers and agricultural stakeholders (Mobis, developed by Ensibuuko in Uganda). In Kenya, another start-up that originates from the program (Farm Drive, Kenya), is training farmers to improve records keeping and facilitates their access to finance. CropGuard in the Caribbean is providing access to pest management resources, networking and business spaces, while Temo le Boso in South Africa is testing their prototype aimed at assisting farmers to take adequate farm management decisions that help them adapt to changing weather patterns. Best teams or start-ups have won other grants, regional and international recognition, following their involvement in the program. Two start-ups involved recently obtained private investments.
A publication, “Innovate for Agriculture” “http://bit.ly/innovate-agriculture”, illustrating how ICT entrepreneurs are transforming agriculture value chains and showcasing some of the participants in the AgriHack program was published early 2016.
Many young people from the teams of developers and start-ups involved have been offered exposure to international stakeholders at international events, including through CTA’s Plug and Play events. The program has collaborated with dozens of incubation centres and ICT hubs such as mLab Eastern Africa (Kenya), Outbox Hub (Uganda), SlashRoots Foundation (Jamaica), Wennovation Hub (Nigeria), IceAddis (Ethiopia) Woelab (Togo), mLab Southern Africa (South Africa), Ecohub (Togo), Telesur Multimedia Innovation Laboratory (Suriname), Etrilabs (Benin) and others. Those hubs have provided incubation services to teams of developers and have been instrumental in the progress achieved. Apart from incubation programs managed by incubation centres, a webinar was hosted by CTA on developing ICT services and products for agriculture and others will be organised in the future.
The program has also collaborated with key national and international agricultural stakeholders and farmer organisations in various countries, including: Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions (SACAU), Caribbean Farmers Network (CaFAN), Caribbean Agricultural Research & Development Institute (CARDI), Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources, Rwanda (MINAGRI), Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN), Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), Ministry of Youth and ICT, Rwanda (MYICT), and Telesur (Suriname).
With Pitch AgriHack, CTA plans to expand the programme and scale it up for greater impact.