Students develop technology to boost rice production

A group of tertiary-level students has developed technologies to address challenges of rice production in Ghana.

Six teams from the University for Development Studies and Tamale Polytechnic came up with the innovations in an agric technology competition.

Ghana currently spends about 500 million dollars annually on rice importation to augment local demand shortfall of 70 per cent of production

The aim of the competition was to generate innovative ideas to enable the increase of rice production in the northern region and make Ghana more self-sufficient.

Over one hundred students took part in the competition which started in December when Avnash opened the doors to their 500-metric tonnes-per-day rice mills — the largest in Africa.

The final six teams of students have received funding, technical and logistics support from Avnash to build a working prototype of their innovation.

Officials say the competition will develop practical skills of he students and introduce them to opportunities in the agric sector.

According to Avnash, this initiative is in line with its core values of creating more employment opportunities and helping the evolution of the industrial sector.

Following training in Design Thinking, the participants formed teams and started to work on solutions to particular challenges in the rice production value chain.

The six selected ideas are:

–  Pneumatic pump to collect rice husks from the factory floor for use in biofuel.

–   Drone with software to distinguish between healthy and diseased rice plants.

–  An on-demand farm machinery sharing platform for managing farm machinery that Avnash makes available to small-scale farmers to    improve their productivity

–  A smart flood control system to prevent flooding of farms so that rice farmers are able to plant sooner

–  An information-ready website to encourage youth in to agric as a career

CEO Avnash, Jai Mirchandani said, “a sustainable future for our investments depends on an inclusive approach with the communities in which we operate. Today’s youth have demonstrated immense potential, creativity, and zeal, across the world; we must support their ambitions here in the North and for a critical sector such as agriculture. Poverty alleviation is at our doorsteps when we bring contextual solutions alive.”

The hackathon was sponsored by agribusiness company, Avnash, and run jointly with Kumasi Hive, local hardware-focused innovation hub.

CEO of Kumasi Hive, Jorge Appiah said, “we are very pleased to work with such a forward-thinking company as Avnash, ready to invest in the innovativeness of our youth. We run many hackathons but we have been very impressed by the creativity of the students taking part in this one”

Elizabeth Apuseyine, one of the participants from University for Development Studies, said she is positive about the initiative.

According to her, “if you have a doctor in your house and you feel sick; do you first go to the hospital? Our youth right here in Ghana can solve the challenges we have in the agric sector”.

 This hackathon serves to prove that given the opportunity, the youth of Ghana indeed can impact the productivity of the agric sector on which so many of our people depend.

The students are from a range of engineering subjects as well as agribusiness, computer science, food processing technology, and ICT courses.

They will then present their prototypes at a final pitch event where the overall winner and runners-up will be selected.

Avnash and Kumasi Hive are already looking at ways to continue supporting some of these young innovators if they decide to turn their innovative ideas into start-up businesses.

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