In Summary
  • Fourteen companies to share a Sh100 million grant for innovations that make farming more fruitful and enjoyable.
  • The challenge, which ran from April 5 to 6, was categorised into production, data analytics and financial inclusion.
  • The selection required participants to have tried their technology on at least 3,000 farmers and developed a concept with a viable and sustainable business for at least two years.
  • Winners were also required to show evidence of impact on productivity, with a focus on smallholder and women farmers; showcase engagement with other players and demonstrate how they could reach at least 10,000 farmers in two years.

As drought and other conditions threaten food security, climate-smart agriculture is increasingly gaining momentum. And the innovators are getting rewarded.

Last week, the World Bank unveiled 14 innovators in Kenya as the first cohort of a million farmers expected to benefit from a grant to help them grow.

The ‘One Million Farmer Initiative’ was formed by The World Bank, the Ministries of Agriculture and ICT, the Korea-World Bank Partnership Facility, Kuza Technologies, Dalberg and the United Nations.

Experts say technology like apps, climate-smart seeds, financial services or data analytics can improve yields and income.

The challenge, which ran from April 5 to 6, was categorised into production, data analytics and financial inclusion.

The first group of the innovators, along with two other cohorts to be selected annually, will be eligible for competitive grants totalling $100 million.

They will also have access to in-kind “incubation” support for 12 to 18 months. “New technology has the ability to transform Kenya’s agriculture. Telecoms have shown the ability of technology to radically disrupt the status quo. It is time farmers harnessed this potential,” Jeehye Kim, an agricultural economist at the World Bank, said.

The selection required participants to have tried their technology on at least 3,000 farmers and developed a concept with a viable and sustainable business for at least two years.

Winners were also required to show evidence of impact on productivity, with a focus on smallholder and women farmers; showcase engagement with other players and demonstrate how they could reach at least 10,000 farmers in two years.

Digital Green

This is a video-enabled approach that tries to bridge the gap between extension officers and farmers.

“We train extension workers to amplify their roles. Videos that run for eight to 10 minutes are produced for farmers by farmers on their farms,” Henry Kinyua, head of Digital Green East Africa, said.

The videos are produced in vernacular.

The firm established a consortium code-named ‘mango working group’ for fruit farmers. It will run a campaign on the control of fruit flies.

Kinyua hopes county governments can use Digital Green as one of their extension tools.

“We are targeting 10,000 people in Makueni in the first year then 250,000 mango farmers across Kenya,” he said
The interactive videos are also available for other platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook.

Digi-Cow

Digi-Cow founder Peninah Wanja was an agricultural extension officer with the government, besides establishing her dairy farm.

This is how she came face to face with the biggest challenge facing the more than a million small holder farmers who own 3.5 million dairy cows: poor or no record keeping.

“Most farmers get about 10 litres per cow daily against a potential of 30,” she said.

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