Priority innovation themes
We are looking for user-centric innovation cases that will lead to broad and positive impacts in food security through the increase in productivity, climate change resilience and adaptation and mitigation of the negative effects on agriculture. We support innovations that are climate-smart and that have a strong case for commercial sustainability. Innovations can be digital, technical, financial, products, services, processes, or business models.
These can be existing or planned innovations in either of the four target countries as well as under one of the four priority innovation themes. Supported innovations should be designed to benefit smallholder farmers and associations in East and Southern Africa. Attention will be given to business models that promote agro-processing and provide aggregation services. Women and youth owned companies are encouraged to apply.
The four priority innovation themes are as follows:
Mechanization and irrigation
Mechanization is the process of using agricultural machinery to mechanize the work of agriculture greatly increasing farm worker productivity. Mechanization encompasses production, distribution, and utilization of a variety of tools, machinery, and equipment for the development of agricultural land, planting, maintaining crop and livestock harvest and post-harvest operations. Irrigation is the system of applying water to crops and field by aid of machinery like pumps, sprinklers, drip hoses and any other mechanical means. Mechanized irrigation directly increases the water use efficiency leading to many indirect benefits in the climate action area. Some examples of innovations under this theme include, solar powered irrigation, supplementary irrigation, grading and sorting equipment, storage, and processing equipment.
Conservation agriculture is a farming approach that promotes minimum soil disturbance, maintenance of permanent soil covers and diversification of farmed plant species. It enhances natural biological processes and contributes to increased water and nutrient use efficiency reducing the need for chemical fertilizers and the disturbance they create in the environment. The approach is based on practical application of three interlinked principles: (i) continuous none or minimum mechanical soil disturbance (no-till seeding or planting and no-till weeding), (ii) permanent maintenance of soil mulch cover (crop biomass, stubble and cover crops), and (iii) diversification of cropping systems (crop rotations and/or sequences and/or associations involving annuals and perennials, including legumes for natural nitrogen fixation), along with other complementary good agricultural production and management practices. Some examples of innovations under this theme include, agriculture-based sustainable intensification management practices, Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM) and Integrated Pest Management (IPM).
Nutrition-sensitive climate smart agriculture
Nutrition-sensitive climate smart agriculture are solutions decreasing the trade-offs between agricultural productivity, climate change, and human and animal nutrition. They make farming more climate sensitive and produce more nutritious food while maintaining productivity. Some examples of innovations under this theme include products such as legumes, cassava, livestock, dairy, oil seeds, horticulture (fresh produce and vegetables), and other staples.
Agricultural Risk Management (ARM)
Agricultural Risk Management (ARM) is the identification, evaluation, and prioritization of risks in agricultural activities including coordinated and economic application to minimize, monitor and control the probability or impact of unfortunate events and maximize opportunities. They make farming more predictable and increase the resilience of farmers. Some examples of innovations under this theme include advisory services, market linkage services, digitizing the value chain and financial products (microinsurance, savings, lending, and credit guarantees).
Early Stage: companies that have begun to market their products. Will require funding to market products. Funded by venture capitalists and growth equity investors (private equity)
Growth Stage: companies with increased demand for products, that require funding to increase production and are looking for debt or equity investors (venture capital and private equity).
Expansion Stage: companies looking to gain market share locally and/or for export funded by debt and equity (private and public equity).