Importance of Precision Agriculture

In the next forty years, we will need to produce more food than we have over the entire course of human history. On a planet with diminishing resources that is subject to environmental stress, advancements in agricultural technology offer the best solution to the issue of feeding an increasing population in a sustainable manner. The following articles detail a few advancements relating to this goal.

VilCap Kenya: Serving Farmers 2014
Our partner, Village Capital, has teamed up with Juhudi Kilimo to offer a three-month accelerator program in Kenya for innovative agriculture businesses solving problems faced by smallholder farmers. Following the structure of its tired and true model, the program consists of three four-day sessions with additional online collaboration, at the end of which the top two enterprises are selected by the group to receive a $50,000 investment. Accelerators like this are key to fostering innovation in developing countries and are beneficial twofold; Entrepreneurs gain valuable advice and funding, and the communities of farmers reap the benefits of the businesses’ innovative technologies and solutions. For this reason, we are pleased to support the organization. Those interested in applying for the program can do so here.

Tapping the Sun to Put More Food on Africa’s Table by Kristine Wong on Take Part
Farmers in Mozambique continue to face a very frustrating and costly problem. Lacking the necessary tools to keep their crops cool, more than 40 percent of each harvest ends up spoiled. Boulder, Colorado-based Rebound Technology is developing a solution to this pressing issue. The company’s SunChill product is a 3-D printed heat exchanger and membrane made from a material that uses solar heat to create refrigeration. Having already received $1.4 million in funding from the USAID, the challenge currently facing Rebound Technologies is the issue of affordability. At $6,000 per system, the technology can realistically only be used by agricultural co-ops or larger farming operations. In order to the full potential of this technology to be realized, Rebound Technologies will need to work directly with these organizations and provide financing to the small-scale farmers that are responsible for producing more than 80% of the food consumed in the world.

Purdue gets funding for commercializing PICS bags in Africa by Keith Robinson on Purdue Agriculture News
Purdue University has announced that it will be receiving a $10 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to commercialize “PICS” bags (Purdue Improved Crop Storage) in Sub-Saharan Africa. Started in 2007, the PICS program has enabled smallholder farmers to store crops for more than a year after harvest, increasing farmer income and improving food availability. This new grant will support the third stage of the program, PICS3, and will allow Purdue to establish supply chains throughout Africa. Initial implementation of PICS3 will be in Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Ghana in West Africa, Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia in East Africa, and Malawi in Southern Africa. Purdue is currently seeking additional donor funds to extend the program to the rest of Africa and South Asia.

Agri-tech firms given £250,000 funding by Shaun Lowthorpe on EDP24
The Eastern Agri-Tech Growth Initiative has announced initial investments in companies as part of their £250,000 innovations fund. Pangaea Agrochemicals received £57,450 to develop a product that will eliminate weed species that have developed resistance to existing pesticides. The funding will allow the Norfolk, UK-based company to accelerate technological developments and run local test trials. The Eastern Agri-Tech Growth Initiative’s investments support a wide range of businesses and aims to foster innovation and growth locally in the UK as well as in the wider agri-tech community.

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