Three Information and Communication Technology developers who were tasked with coming up with solutions that would improve farmers’ access to finance and solutions to improve the bidirectional information amongst farmers and extension officers, have been rewarded with cash prizes at the just-concluded ICT for Agriculture Summit.
The winners, Ensibuuko from Uganda, Agrivas from Ethiopia, (first runners-up) and Tanzanian all girls group Agrinfo (third) won Rwf4.5 million, Rwf3.6 million and Rwf2.6 million, respectively, amongst other awards.
Rwanda’s Fertilizer Logic, a team of four (University of Rwanda’s College of Science and Technology (Former KIST) students who participated in the competition did not feature in the best IT solution developers.
While awarding the winners of the hackathon and officially closing the summit, Agnes Kalibata, the Minister for Agriculture, defined the competition and ICT involvement in agriculture as a way to extend the wealth to the bottom of the pyramid if the right programmes are developed.
“This conference and the ICT solutions competition was about finding solutions that will make a difference for farmers. The aim of this was to bring together people working together with farmers and identifying the need on the ground and come up with solutions. If we can embrace the use of ICT we will be able to cut a great deal on public spending and use the funds in other projects.”
The minister also said that Rwandan farmers last year received a $30,000 (Rwf20 million) Green Revolution award for their efforts to rid themselves of poverty and ensuring green revolution.
“We have been trying to come up with a way to put this money to good use in order to reach as many farmers as possible. After seeing the hackthon, I now know what do with the money,” she said. “I will put up the $30,000 for a similar competition in order to create a green revolution and encourage the ICT sector to come up with solutions for farmers.”
Ensibuuko, from Uganda, developed an application to improve access to finance for people in remote areas. The application makes it possible for farmers to acquire small loans and pay back loans with ease by text message services.
Agrivas, from Ethiopia, a team of two, presented an information resource centre for farmers which will deliver information via radio, SMS and the Internet. The group approaches information provision from all angles to cater for the illiterate.
Agrinfo developed a web based and mobile platform to help in mapping farms and land for agricultural use.
While determining the winners, the judges who comprised CEOs and senior management of leading international tech companies averaged their individual marks to come up with the final scores.
Youth and ICT minister Jean-Philbert Nsengimana termed the summit the biggest gathering on ICT in Agriculture in Africa.
“The partnership between the two sectors holds a promising and sustainable future for both sectors and presents numerous opportunities. The partnership should be encouraged and we are looking to host more similar conferences in the future,” he said.
He congratulated the winners of the competition for showing possibilities that lie ahead in the two sectors.
Michael Hailu, the Director General of CTA, (Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Cooperation), the main orgainsers of the summit, said the partnership between the two sectors is a new approach in dealing with issues that the agricultural sector faces and a sure way to achieve food security.
“This summit is the first of many and only the beginning of a lasting cooperation that will develop the agriculture sector and increase opportunities for people in both sectors.”
Rwf20 million for ICT competition