Africa Rural Connect – an online global collaboration network run by the National Peace Corps Association – recently announced the winners of its Young Farmers Idea Contest, designed to find new ways to engage young farmers in agricultural development in rural Africa.
The grand prize went to Backpack Farm and its mobile app – KUZA Doctor – to help smallholder farmers in Kenya manage their production from ‘farm to fork’ with information on crop management and irrigation, crop calendars, the value of biodiversity and conservation agriculture, and tutorials about farming and business. The group’s $5,000 prize will support development of a smartphone app to expand on their work promoting agricultural education through SMS messaging.
“What this contest showed is, in many ways, Africa is ahead of the United States on mobile computing,” said Molly Mattessich, who manages the Africa Rural Connect project.
Second prize ($2,500) went to the One Hen Campaign, a micro-lending project to give one hen and one cage to women and youth in rural Africa. In exchange, recipients will return two young hens after six months. The program is designed to help get farmers started on their way toward owning a goat or a cow.
Third prize ($1,000) went to the Green Living Planet, which proposed a “keyhole garden” project to create a sustainable school lunch program for Tanzanian students.
In other innovation news, the Worldwatch Institute’s Nourishing the Planet blog this week highlights 12 innovations it says will help make U.S. and global agriculture more drought resilient and sustainable.