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Incorporating technology in addressing challenges that the Agri-sector is experiencing

AgriTech Hackathon competition attracts large numbers

The University of Namibia (UNAM) in collaboration with City of Windhoek (Farm Okukuna) and Start Up Namibia recently organised an AgriTech Hackathon competition that aimed to addressing problems experienced among local farmers and key sectors in the agricultural ecosystem.

Sponsors and supporters for the AgriTech Hackathon competition includes; Neudamm campus, Namibia Facility Management (NFM), Namibia Investment Promotion Development Board (NIPDB) and Agra Provision.

The competition which took place under the theme: “Using technology to solve agriculture for communal and small scale farmers” drew attention of about one hundred and sixty one (161) applicants. From these, a pre-selection was made which narrowed to 40 applicants.

Comprising of three (3) days, the AgriTech Hackathon competition gave insight regarding the unique challenges and problems that farmers are experiencing in the sector. The first day comprised of farm tour to three different farming sites which included; Neudamm campus farm (consisting of livestock and crops), the village (urban farming) and Farm Okukuna (crops).

During these farm tours, participants gained further insights of the challenges & problems that are affecting farmers. These ranged from; stock theft, water challenges, pests, farm monitoring and management etc. The participants were then allocated agri-problem statements which they were required to solve by applying technology.

The event created a unique stage for agricultural entrepreneurs, farmers, and ICT specialists to learn new skills, network with like-minded peers, and co-create solutions to combat problems in the agriculture industry.

At the launch of their AgriTech innovative ideas, participants came up with unique AgriTech solutions. Some of the solutions included: leveraging technology to address water challenges, using technology to address the challenge of market accessibility and using technology to monitor and manage pests.

According to Linda McLeod; one of the organiser for the event, she highlighted that such initiatives are very crucial as they provide a quick way of solving  agri-challenges as participants are given the problem statement. This then push them to think towards solving the problem with the involvement of technology.

“What stood out for me is how we can integrate technology into solving agri-problems. The farm tour also encouraged me to start my own back yard gardening”, states Cecilia Naule a participant who attended the AgriTech Hackathon.

Another participant Samoneth Kuvare, highlighted that the entire set up of the competition was very insightful as she learned a lot on technology, agri-challenges and the business behind agriculture.