Business News of Sunday, 25 November 2018
A Ghanaian-registered techbology company scored big at the 2018 Feed the Future Fall Armyworm Tech Prize in Cape Town last Wednesday.
Henson Geodata Technology, a geographical information systems company based in Accra, came second place out of 20 finalists throughout the continent. The award’s judges based their decision on companies who use digital tools to provide “context-specific information that enables smallholder farmers and those who support them to identify, treat, and track incidence of fall armyworm in Africa.”
Farmworms pose dangerous threats to food security in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization for the United Nations.
“FAW outbreaks first occurred in West Africa in early 2016 and are now on the precipice of devastating food supplies across the continent, exacerbating global poverty and hunger,” a Final Fall Armyworm Tech statement reads. “FAW attacks more than 80 different plant species and agriculture experts estimate the pest may cause over $13 billion in losses for crops like maize, sorghum, rice, and sugarcane.”
Using technology to suppress the damage done to crops spurred the award’s inception. The judges used a criterion of six measures to determine the winners: digital tools, actionable information, accessibility, potential impact, market potential and adherence to regulations, privacy and norms.
The grand-prize winner was Kenyan-based company, Farm.Ink, a tech company that using natural language processing algorithms to analyse social farming data. Farm.Ink won a $150,000. Henson Geodata Technology won $50,000.
Read the press release below:
HENSON GEODATA TECHNOLOGIES BAGS FRONTIER INNOVATION AWARD IN THE FINAL FALL ARMYWORM TECH PRIZE CEREMONY HELD IN CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA, NOVEMBER 14, 2018.
Henson Geodata Technologies Ltd (HGT) (www.hensongeodata.com), a Ghanaian registered GIS technology company was awarded the second runner up Prize out of 20 finalists at the Grand finale of the Feed the Future Fall Armyworm TechPrize (https://fallarmywormtech.challenges.org/winners/) held in Cape Town South Africa on 14 November 2018. It crowns a strongly contested competition for digital tools and approaches that provide timely, context-specific information that enable smallholder farmers and those who support them to identify, treat, and track incidence of fall armyworm (FAW) in Africa.
The award was for IGEZA (www.igeza.africa) an AI, GIS and IVR– driven pests and crop disease detection, instant geo-notification, mapping, real-time pesticides recommendation and knowledge base system with a mobile and web platforms for smallholder farmers in Africa.
IGEZA allows smallholder farmers and extension workers to scan for pests like fall armyworm (FAW) and instantly access recommended pesticides, map their farms, learn about the FAW detection and management, alert community of experts and policy makers and communicate with them in their local language. Extension workers and other experts are also able to monitor and access data on pest and disease infestations across farms through the cloud-based Igeza Control Centre.
‘We have had tremendous interaction with our pilot community that started in June’, said Dr. Kofi Henaku. ‘We thank the farmers and agricultural extension workers for their constructive feedback to improve Igeza. Special thanks also go to Kojo Ahiakpa (Research Desk Consulting Ltd: www.rdcgh.org) for his leadership, Dr. Michael Osae (Deputy Director of BNARI, at the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission) and his team for technical leadership.’ As Dr. Osae said, ‘Igeza is simply meant to enhance quality of service delivery to our farmers’.
Henson Geodata Technologies has researched and developed a number of location-based technologies such as a base map of Africa, a spatial data infrastructure for Africa, an ERP Solution to drive business efficiencies, a mobile banking solution and an insurance claim notification service.