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Agriculture Risk Innovation Challenge

March 09-April 02, 2020


  • The World Bank’s Agriculture Observatory, in conjunction with the Disaster Risk Financing and the Disaster Risk Management teams, and with the support of Draper University is launching three Agriculture Risk innovation challenges to harness new technology and data to address the agriculture and food security risks in Southern Africa. Applications are open until April 2nd, 2020. These innovations can impact the lives of millions of people across Africa and around the world.

    The Agriculture Risk innovation challenge is supported by the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) and The State and Peacebuilding Fund (SPF).  Partners in this effort include: Gro Intelligence, Accenture, African Development Bank, InnMind, Georgetown University, the Platform for Agriculture Risk Management (PARM)

    Find out more.

  • The agriculture sector faces increasing risks as natural disasters become more frequent and disruptive due to climate change. Climate change is expected to intensify the following agriculture risks in the South Africa Development Community (SADC):

    • Crop failures due to extreme weather events (drought, floods)
    • Animal and/or plant pests or diseases
    • Food price, agriculture, and trade flow disruptions

    To incentivize the development of these risk financing tools, the World Bank’s Agriculture Observatory is launching the following three challenges with the aim to demonstrate alternative ways of collecting or monitoring critical datasets and indices that can be used to ultimately assess in a granular, scalable and dynamic way the various dimensions of impact induced by agricultural stressors.

    Challenge 1: Alternative Methods for Measuring Weather Variables

    Why: 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. This includes measurements of excess rainfall and rainfall deficit, among other variables.

    The Goal: To develop alternative ways to measure weather variables.

    Examples: Measurement of rainfall through interruptions between cell phone signals between towers, the weather data captured by WMA approved airport towers.

    Learn more   |  Submit your solution

    Challenge 2: Animal and Plant Pests and Diseases

    Predicting or Monitoring Animal and/or Plant Pests or Disease Outbreaks

    Why: Pathogens are expanding in new areas never affected before, exacting significant economic cost on the livestock sector. Prevention and early warning for rapid response are essential. To better understand how cases effect global economies and food prices around the world, read this insight from Gro Intelligence.

    The Goal:  For example, provide alternative solutions to predict or monitor high-risk conditions of vector-borne diseases for livestock.


    1. Models that use alternative data inputs, such as: social media, weather, movements of other vectors driving the spark and spread of these diseases. 
    2. Diseases relevant for SADC including vector-borne diseases with seasonal patterns (e.g. Rift Valley Fever, January Disease, etc.).

    Learn more   |  Submit your solution

    Challenge 3: Agriculture Data

    Bring your Own Agriculture Data

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

    The Goal: Present time series of agriculture data (yield, price, production) data for crops relevant to the SADC region in an electronic format. The proposal must explain how the agriculture data was obtained and why it is relevant.

    Examples: Cooperatives, input suppliers, agribusinesses, financial institutions, and local NGOs that have collected agriculture data in the SADC region can submit their dataset.

    Learn more   |  Submit your proposal

    The Application Process

    Step 1: Go to our platform link here. Record and send in an explanatory 1 minute YouTube video, fill out the questionnaire and prepare a short application (2 pages max) defining your proposed submission to one of the thematic areas using the submission portal below. Close of Call for ApplicationApril 2, 2020.

    Step 2: Proposals will be reviewed by a World Bank Expert Working Group. This will be based on the outlined criteria (see challenge details). Successful applicants will be notified of their invitation to the Shark Tank via email by April 9, 2020.

    Step 3: If your proposal is selected, you may receive feedback from the Expert Working Group to maximize the impact of your proposal to be presented at the award ceremony April 27-28, 2020.

    Note: For shortlisted applicants, a Request for a Powerpoint Presentation (RFPP) will be issued to get the material before the award ceremony. Public Announcements of the Proposals Funded in this Round will be made in August 2020.

    Submit your solution today


  • The winner of each challenge will:

    • Present to a panel of experts from top international institutions

    • Exhibit their proposal work in a report on agriculture innovations by the World Bank and partners

    • Be featured in key media outlets as an innovator in the area.

    • Attend an award ceremony in Washington, D.C., and have the opportunity to interact with potential partners.

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