FEATURE STORY

Tech Meets Agriculture at #Hack4Ag in Uganda

January 21, 2016

image
Photo: Erik (HASH) Hersman / Flickr Creative Commons


Kampala, Uganda— Cellphone usage is expanding in Sub-Saharan Africa, and paving the way for information and communication technologies (ICT) to modernize and boost productivity in the region’s agricultural sector.   Apps like Kilimo Salama, which provides farmers with updated climate data, as well as Vet Africa, which helps diagnose livestock diseases, are already transforming farmers’ lives in Sub-Saharan Africa.  Up to 90% of farmers polled by e-Learning Africa credit ICT with improving food security in their region.

And there’s potential for ICT to do even more, which is why farmers are clamoring for more innovations. “ICT is making big gains in Africa, and at the same time, there is great potential for innovation in the agriculture sector,” explains Dina Umali- Deininger, Practice Manager for East Africa with the World Bank’s Agriculture Global Practice.  “ICT can be a powerful tool for farmers by facilitating learning, connecting farmers to markets or providing crucial information.”

#Hack4Ag

The World Bank aims to help jumpstart agricultural innovation by hosting #Hack4Ag in Kampala, Uganda. Supported by funding from South Korea, the hackathon brings together young people from Uganda and South Korea, as well as innovators, developers, farmers and other partners to dream up innovative ways of using mobile technology to help farmers. “The vast majority of Ugandans are farmers,” says Christina Malmberg Calvo, World Bank Country Manager for Uganda. “ICT holds great promise to engage youth in the much needed transformation of the country’s agriculture sector.”   

The hackathon will comprise 9 teams with 4 members per team--3 Ugandans and 1 South Korean. Thirty-six shortlisted finalists will develop mobile app prototypes to address agricultural challenges that will be identified during farmer field visits. The prototypes will then be judged by an expert panel of judges during a pitch session. "We are happy to be a part of this World Bank led initiative aimed at using technology to improve farming experiences through generating practical solutions for the farming community,” emphasizes H.E. Park Jong-Dae, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Uganda.  

The winning team will have the opportunity to make a lasting contribution to Uganda’s agriculture sector—their app will be developed further, and implemented as one component of an ongoing World Bank-financed project of Uganda’s Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry, and Fisheries. The winning team will receive continuous mentorship during the implementation process, even long after the hackathon has been completed.  They will also be trained on entrepreneurship and product marketing—skills that can grow their careers as ICT professionals. Working with a team from South Korea, Ugandan developers have the chance to build synergies and find areas of potential collaboration, including training and exchange opportunities.


" ICT holds great promise to engage youth in the much needed transformation of the country’s agriculture sector.  "

Christina Malmberg Calvo

World Bank Country Manager for Uganda

Why the Hackathon?

The hackathon is part of the Bank’s commitment to engage and empower young people to be pivotal agents for agricultural modernization through ICT.

Using methods drawn from design thinking and creative problem solving, the hackathon will encourage participants to think outside-the-box and design unconventional mobile Agriculture (mAgriculture) solutions. The hackathon will follow principles of “user-centered design,” actively engaging farmers and young people in developing solutions that are based on their needs, experiences and expectations.

QUICK FACTS:

Where and when

June 20-25, 2016, Kampala, Uganda.

Who

Young people from Uganda and South Korea will be participating in the hackathon, alongside mentors and partners in the Academia. We are looking for participants with the following profile:

  • A multi-disciplinary team beyond just programmers
  • Members of the team must be exposed to rural settings
  • Demonstrate a desire and or understanding of farming /Agriculture
  • Demonstrate technical skill sets
  • Must be a fully Ugandan team currently living in Uganda (For Ugandan Applicants)
  • A gender balanced team is preferred

How

Teams will spend 48 hours building a new mobile app. In teams of approximately 6, they will develop a mobile solution designed to increase the visibility of the need and demonstrate the potential value to small farmers and the app development community. On completion, they will demo the project to other hackers taking part in the hackathon and to an audience of over 100 local supporters in the Kampala community gathered to learn about the app prototypes, select the best apps, and celebrate the launch of the top apps selected.

Will there be mentors?

Yes! We will have plenty of support, including mentors from Makerere University and experts from the private sector to support the teams in testing their prototypes. Throughout the Hackathon, there will be regular “Mentor check-ins” for teams to ask the experts any queries 
and receive guidance as they design their solutions.

Announcing the winner

The winning project(s) will be announced on day five of the #Hack4Ag, and the World Bank will support efforts to further refine the winning app(s) after the hackathon by working with the winning team during the Bank-financed Agriculture Cluster Development project pilot implementation.

Join the Conversation

Facebook: 

https://www.facebook.com/worldbank

https://www.facebook.com/WorldBankAfrica

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/WBG_Agriculture

https://twitter.com/WorldBankAfrica

Hashtag  #Hack4Ag

For more information contact

Jeehye Kim -- Agriculture Specialist jkim15@worldbank.org or 

David Neilson -- dnielson@worldbank.org in Washington D.C.

Maureen Agena -- magena@worldbank.org in Kampala, Uganda