Young ICT innovators snap up 2018 Pacific AgriHack Lab awards

Three Pacific entrepreneurs based in Fiji and the Solomon Islands have been declared winners of the 2018 Pacific AgriHack Lab competition and awarded €5,000 grants to help further develop their agriculture-oriented innovations.

This year’s event – hosted at the University of the South Pacific (USP) Tonga Campus in partnership with the Faculty of Science, Technology and Environment of the USP Suva Campus, and organised in collaboration with CTA as part of the CTA/IFAD-funded ‘Innov4AgPacific’ project – sought to scale up novel and existing agriculture-oriented ICT innovations. 15 teams from across the Pacific took part in a two-day workshop that provided training across a number of key business development areas – including accessing finance, shaping a viable business model and understanding intellectual property rights (IPR).

Preliminary training sessions also allowed teams to refine their pitches, before presenting their innovations to a panel of judges. The judging panel for this year’s event was led by Francis Thomsen, CEO of Digical Tonga Ltd., and was comprised of academic, finance and private business representatives.

The 15 finalists presented a diverse range of ICT-based innovations with potential applications across the agriculture value chain – from streamlining communication, to capacity development and improving transport. The three winning teams, will use the grant to take their ideas to the next stage:

  • TraSeable Solutions, an established Fijian technology company providing transparency across the Pacific’s seafood sector, entered the 2018 AgriHack Lab with its new ‘TraSeable Farms’ app. The app aims to leverage the company’s experience within the seafood sector, providing a blockchain-enabled platform helping farmers to gain access to better markets for their produce.
  • A collaboration between USP and Fiji’s National Food and Nutrition Centre (NFNC) resulted in the development of the MyKana app, seeking to address the current nutrition crisis across the Pacific. The app provides nutritional information on the food entered by users, placing an emphasis on a balanced diet, rather than a calorie-based metric. “We are working with the USP Centre for Flexible Learning because they have engineers and computer experts, and are represented in 22 countries. We then contribute food and nutrition security expertise.” The organisation plans to use the award in the development of a ‘backyard gardening’ component for the app, which will provide information to users on establishing and maintaining their own garden, to produce and consume nutritious fruit and vegetables.
  • The third innovation to take home this year’s award was the MalaAgri app, developed by the Solomon Islands-based Youth in Business Association. The idea was born out of the barriers currently preventing young people in the Pacific from kick-starting their own businesses; “We should have more partnership opportunities, especially for young people,” explains Watson Anikwai, one of the app’s developers.

In addition to the monetary award, the winners will receive additional technical support, as well as capacity building, mentorship and incubation opportunities.

For more information or to request an interview, contact Toby Johnson, Team Leader Communications, CTA, +31 (0) 6 10 88 50 80, johnson@cta.int

About CTA

The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) is a joint international institution of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States and the European Union (EU). Its mission is to advance food security, resilience and inclusive economic growth in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific through innovations in sustainable agriculture. CTA operates under the framework of the Cotonou Agreement and is funded by the EU.

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The journey to the Agrihack Lab in Tonga on 3-6 December 2018 started with a collaboration between the Centre for Flexible Learning at the University of the South Pacific (USP), and the National Food and Nutrition Centre, Ministry of Health and Medical Services in Fiji to address the current nutrition crisis in the Pacific.

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In September 2018, TraSeable Solutions was fortunate to be invited to participate in the CTA Pacific AgriHack Lab competition in Tonga to pitch our new initiative, the Integrated Mobile and Web-based Market and Transport Access Platform for Pacific Farmers. The award for winning the competition was a monetary prize that could be used to scale-up activities and expand the business. This event came at an opportune time to test our initial concepts and acquire useful feedback from experts in the agri-tech field.

ICT competition success for Solomon Islands start-up

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The Malaita Youth in Business Association (MYIBA), was one of the recipients of three awards during the Pacific Agrihack Lab competition in Tonga last year December 2018. The event sought to scale-up novel and existing ICT innovations to improve economic activities within agricultural value chains.

Call for applications: Pacific 2018 AgriHack Lab, ICTs from Farm-to-Table

The Pacific 2018 AgriHack Lab aims to identify and assess the potential for upscaling novel or existing ICT4Ag innovations for overcoming challenges in Pacific agriculture, agribusiness and value chain development namely: Communication and market development, Transport logistics and Capacity building of farmers/ SMEs.

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