Pacific innovators win awards to scale-up their ICT tools for improving nutrition and value chain development
Three teams of ICT innovators from Fiji and the Solomon Islands were each awarded €5,000 Euros after being declared winners of the CTA/IFAD/Pacific 2018 Innov4AgPacific Agri-Hack Competition that was held in the Kingdom of Tonga.
Winning teams were Solomon Islander community youth group represented by Hika Gonne and Watson Anikwai, Fijian entrepreneurs Kenneth Katafono and Mohammed Moishin, and Fijian nutritionist Ateca Kama and researcher Irene Mary Chief. In addition to the monetary award, the winners will receive additional technical support.
The 2018 Pacific Agri-Hack Lab Event that was held in Tonga, was organised within the framework of the Promoting Nutritious Food Systems (Innov4AgPacific) Project, which is co-funded by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and implemented by CTA in partnership with the Pacific Islands Private Sector Organisation (PIPSO). The Tonga event was endorsed by the Government of the Kingdom of Tonga and organized in collaboration with MORDI Tonga Trust, the University of the South Pacific (USP) and the Pacific Financial Inclusion Program (PFIP).
The aim of the Pacific Agri-Hack Lab, ‘ICTs – From Farm to Table’ was to upscale the use, and expand the reach of novel and existing ICT platforms/applications as well as spur the development of prototypes that specifically attract smallholders farmers and fisher folk and small and medium enterprises involved in local food crops and fisheries value chains. Applications were received from six of the seven project target countries, with the majority coming from Fiji. ICT for agriculture innovators showcased a wide range of ICT solutions directed at addressing communication, capacity development, nutrition, transport and employment issues while further developing agricultural sectors and value chains in the Pacific.
In a highly competitive contest, 15 teams from Fiji, Kiribati, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu were selected to pitch their innovations to a panel of judges during the finals of the competition, hosted at the USP Tonga campus on 05 December. Prior to pitching their ideas to the panel of judges, applicants participated in a two-day workshop, which included training sessions on access to finance, investment readiness, viable business models and marketing, technical soundness and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). The training gave them the opportunity to refine their pitches before presenting them to the panel of judges.
“Traseable Farms” by Kenneth Katafono and Mohammed Moishin of Traseable Solutions, Fiji
Kenneth Katafono, the Founder and Managing Director of Fijian technology company Traseable Solutions, stated that his company was geared towards creating platforms for seafood traceability but recently began looking at opportunities in agriculture. Aim of the Traseable Farms app is to support any farmer, regardless of the size of their farm, to easily access a market for their products and the available transportation/logistics to move their products.
“I presented on Traseable Farms. It’s something that we were looking into given the success of our Fisheries app. Fisheries and agriculture are our biggest resources and face similar challenges. As Pacific Islanders we should take ownership of this and try and find solutions for improving efficiency, ourselves.”
“Grow your own food – MyKana App Fiji Version 2.0” by Ateca Kama (National Food and Nutrition Council) and Irene Yee Chief (USP Centre for Flexible Learning), Fiji
Ateca Kama, manager of the National Food and Nutrition Council (NFNC) based in Fiji, said that the MyKana app provides nutrition advice to its users. It is a collaborative effort between her organization and the USP Centre for Flexible Learning. The app aims to address the current nutrition crisis in the Pacific Island States
“The food list is based on the South Pacific food composition table and all the countries in the South Pacific use that table”, said Kama.
“We are working with the USP Centre for Flexible Learning because they have industrial engineers and computer experts and USP is represented in twenty-two countries. We contribute the food and nutrition security expertise.” Currently the nutrition app is available only in Fiji, and the long-term aim is to out scale the app to all USP member countries, adjust it to the local context and translate it into local languages. “This will make the system not only available for us in Fiji.”
With the award an additional “grow your own food – backyard gardening” component will be added that will allow users not only to access nutrition advice but to receive additional support in establishing and maintaining their own garden to grow local nutritious vegetables and fruits.
“This compliments our Innov4AgPacific community nutrition seed funding projects, which are supporting community-based organisations to promote home gardening, nutrition education, diversified diets and increased income using a value chain approach,” says Judith Francis, Innov4AgPacific Project Coordinator.
“MalaAgri App” by Hika Gonne and Watson Anikwai, Malaita Youth in Business Association, Solomon Islands
The MalaAgri App facilitates agri-business development by connecting youth entrepreneurs to support services as well as farmers in Malaika Province in the Solomon Islands to the national market.
Watson Anikwai, a technology student at the University of the South Pacific, stated that winning the 2018 Pacific Agri-Hack Lab would allow him and his organisation the opportunity to give back to their country.
“I can go back and implement something that will really help my country and do something that can change lives.”
Hika Gonne, a leading community worker, stated that he would like to see greater partnerships among young people in the Pacific.
“We should have more partnership opportunities especially for young people – there should be a platform for us in the Pacific. I know there is a global one but we should have our own in the Pacific because we share common challenges such as climate change and ambitions for sustainable livelihoods.”
Immediate recommendations from participating judges, experts and agri-entrepreneurs were for CTA, IFAD and partners to repeat the Pacific Agri-Hack lab in the future, but expand the training sessions over a longer period and ensure that teams place greater emphasis on effective end-user engagement. ICTs must either improve efficiency or reduce waste for actors involved in Pacific local food crops and fisheries value chain development.