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World Bank launches AG Innovation Challenge to address food security in SADC region

The World Bank Agriculture Observatory, together with Draper University and innovation platform InnMind, are calling on innovators to take part in the AG Innovation Challenge.

The agriculture sector faces increasing risks as natural disasters become more frequent and disruptive due to climate change, such as crop failures due to extreme weather events, pests or diseases and food price hikes.

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To incentivise the development of these risk-financing tools, the World Bank’s Agriculture Observatory is launching three challenges that aim to harness new technology and data to address the agriculture and food security risks in the Southern Africa Development Corporation (SADC) region.

The World Bank’s AG Innovation Challenge aim to address the agriculture and food security risks in Southern Africa

Applications close on 2 April.

The three challenges that form part of the AG Innovation Challenge are:

Challenge 1: Alternative methods for measuring weather variables. Weather data is essential for the development of risk finance mechanisms and other key tools to strengthen the financial resilience of farmers to climatic shocks.

Challenge 2: Predicting or monitoring animal and plant pests or disease outbreaks. With pathogens expanding into new areas that have never been affected before, this is exacting significant economic costs on farmers. Prevention and early warning for rapid response are therefore essential.

Challenge 3: Agriculture data. Objective, transparent, accessible, and accurate data is essential for developing high quality, affordable risk financing instruments (such as insurance) or agriculture information systems. With the expansion of novel data collection techniques, non-traditional methods of data collection can leap-frog traditional methods and expand the scope and availability of risk financing instruments for farmers.

Applicants will have an opportunity to get pre-selected to pitch their solutions to a panel of judges composed of experts in the field of agriculture risk management who hail from top international and regional institutions, including academia, the private sector, governments, and multilateral financial institutions.

By making it into this round, the participants will be exposed to those experts who are likely to be interested in their solutions and may follow up with opportunities for collaboration and support.

The winners of each challenge will get to go on an all-expenses paid trip to Washington DC (conditional upon travel restrictions) where they will attend an award ceremony and have the opportunity to interact with potential partners.

They will also receive prizes from sponsors and partners such as being a participant in the Silicon Valley startup bootcamp in Barcelona in September, organised by InnMind and Draper University.

Additionally, winners will be given the chance to exhibit their proposal work in a report on agriculture innovations published by the World Bank and its partners.

Over and above this, they will be exposed to networking opportunities and get to interact with the key decision makers in the field of agriculture development – the direct supporters and implementors of innovations in the region.

“We would like to create a network of innovators, so even if your proposal is not selected, we would definitely want to keep in touch and support the innovation ecosystem regardless,” said Diego Arias, Lead Agriculture Economist at the World Bank, in a statement.

Featured image: dengmo via Pixabay

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