Home Business Two Nigerian women-led agri-tech start-ups win big, as AGRF19 draws to a...

Two Nigerian women-led agri-tech start-ups win big, as AGRF19 draws to a close

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By Kayode Ogunbunmi, with AGRA reports

Two Nigerian, women led Agri-tech companies, Foodlocker Limited and Trackball Global Technologies Nigeria were big winners at the 2019 African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) which ended Friday in Accra, Ghana.

Foodlocker, led by Jennifer Okoduwa won the 10,000 euro Data Analytics prize at the Pitch Agri Hack organized by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), while Trackball, led by Kano based Juwairiya Ibrahim El-Yakub won 5,000 euro Public Choice Award.

The awards were part of the ceremonies to bring an end to the AGRF 2019, the ninth edition of  Africa’s premier gathering of Agriculture policymaker, farmers, agro-businesses and young start-ups.

More than 2300 delegates, including current and retired presidents and heads of state and government, ministers, scientists, members of the civil society and farmers, for three days, took over the Accra International Conference Centre, where discussions around the state of African agriculture took prominence. The gathering was hosted under the leadership of President of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo, and was chaperoned by Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, the Minister of Food and Agriculture for Ghana.

Policy proposals, product showcases and weighty discussions were made as mega-financial deals were struck in the Deal Room to actualize the resolutions made at the conference.

It was also at the AGRF19 that Strive Masiyiwa announced his retirement as Chairman of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and AGRF Board, handing over the baton to Hailemariam Desalegn.

It was also announced that Rwanda will host the AGRF secretariat and that starting in 2020, the East African state will be hosting the AGRF every alternate year.

Three major awards were handed out at the conference – the Africa Food Prize, the GoGettaz Award and the CTA Award.

Juwairiya and her partner with the CTA award

The theme of this year’s AGRF was “Grow Digital: Leveraging Digital Transformation to Drive Sustainable Food Systems in Africa.”

A rigorous and informative series of technical assessments, policy analyses, and political discussions produced a new level of consensus that could dramatically accelerate efforts to make farming in Africa more productive, profitable, sustainable and inclusive.

During the Forum, delegates explored the practical application of digital innovations such as big data, blockchain, digital IDs, drones, machine learning, robotics, and sensors. Farmers demonstrated how digital innovations and new technologies are transforming their household businesses and communities.

Agri-preneurs and business leaders showcased innovative models ready for investments and scaling. Researchers and thought leaders demonstrated the power of big data systems and analytics for business and evidence-based policy. Meanwhile public sector leaders shared their experience in delivering digitalization and agri-tech strategies, policies, and investments to stimulate the growth trajectory of their whole country.

Deliberations at the forum made it clear that coordinated efforts of public and private sector actors can unlock the potential of advances in everything from big data to block chain systems, drones, robotics, and machine learning platforms. These innovations will help to overcome many different challenges and generate a host of new opportunities, particularly for Africa’s young, digitally-savvy entrepreneurs.

Delegates also agreed that realizing the promise of digital farmers’ services to drive environmentally and commercially sustainable agriculture ventures will require new investments. These investments will help to build technologies and data platforms tailored to the way people grow and sell agriculture commodities in sub-Saharan Africa. There was also an emphasis on developing inclusive innovations—technologies and services that are accessible to all farmers everywhere, including women farmers and those still at the subsistence level.