The World Bank, with support from the Korea World Bank Partnership Facility (KWPF) and the Korean Green Growth Trust Fund (KGGTF), and in partnership with Plug and Play Tech Center, is launching the Africa-Korea Agtech Innovation Challenge to identify disruptive agricultural technologies (DATs) interested to work in Kenya and Uganda. The World Bank seeks to create bridges between innovators and explore the potential to incorporate DATs into its work.
Fifteen finalists will be selected from the online application process. The finalists will pitch their solutions at the Africa-Korea Agtech Innovation Summit in Nairobi, Kenya in February 2023. The 3-day Summit will showcase the finalists to key government officials from Kenya, Uganda and South Korea, World Bank stakeholders, prominent accelerators and venture capital firms (VCs). Alongside networking opportunities, the Challenge will also feature learning opportunities and field trips to some of Kenya’s agri-innovation sites. The winning solutions will also potentially have an opportunity to join the One Million Farmers Platform in Kenya.
The World Bank Group defines DATs as digital and non-digital innovations that enable smallholder farmers to leapfrog their current constraints and improve their yields, incomes, nutritional status, and climate resilience. These technologies range from mobile apps to digital identities for farmers, solar applications for agriculture, portable agriculture devices, and bio-fortified foods. DATs empower farmers by either (i) accelerating agri-food outcomes by multiple folds (3-5x) and/or by (ii) circumventing the conventions of the value chain to achieve the same/better results — but with a more efficient agri-food outcome.
The challenge invites DATs whose solutions address one of the following three themes:
- Improving agricultural productivity and efficiency
Why: Crop yields and livestock productivity in Sub-Saharan Africa are not rising fast enough to meet growing food demand. Growth in productivity has slowed due to increased climate events, reliance on rainfed agriculture, low uptake of advisory and extension services, lack of access to better inputs (seeds, fertilizer, pesticides) and low rates of mechanization.
The Goal: To increase productivity and/or quality of produce while optimizing inputs.
Examples: Services providing information about weather, prices and inputs, extension and advisory services, learning platforms, pest and disease management tools, medical assistance tools for livestock, digital services that increase farmers’ access to inputs and machinery.
2. Improving market access and providing downstream and upstream linkages
Why: Many smallholders in Sub-Saharan Africa sell their produce to the local community or to intermediaries since they lack information and connections to alternative buyers who could give them better prices and conditions. Obstacles to market access include lack of information on demand, prices and production volumes, lack of mechanisms to certify or guarantee product quality, lack of access to
high-quality buyers, and inability to get produce to the buyer in time due to logistical challenges and a lack of cold chain facilities.
The Goal: To improve market access and market integration for small-holder farmers, including providing links to better inputs and connecting farmers to buyers who can pay better prices.
Examples: platforms linking farmers with buyers, services providing price information, quality assurance and traceability solutions, virtual aggregation and logistics solutions.
3. Financial inclusion of farmers
Why: Access to credit and insurance products can provide a safety net for farmers, who are highly
vulnerable to climate events. However, only 1 percent of credit supply flows to farmers. Factors that constrain financial access include lack of reliable data to support agricultural lending decisions, lack of collateral to secure financing, high transaction costs for providing financial services to rural areas, and lack of data for assessing risk and delivering financial services (for example, high costs of traditional claims processing for agri-insurance). Additionally, the high cost of credit translates into a lack of demand for credit by farmers.
Goal: Improving access to credit, insurance, and other financial instruments for smallholder farmers.
Examples: Services and solutions increasing access to crop insurance, generating credit scoring, e wallet systems, and credit scoring services, digital credit services.
- Be legally incorporated in respective country(s) of operation before 30th November 2020 (operating for >2 years)
- Particular interest to work in either Kenya, Uganda or South Korea.
- Must have a publicly available product, with real users or customers and generating revenue.
- Product must address one of the three challenge themes: agricultural productivity, improving market access or financial inclusion of farmers in an innovative way.
The submitted applications will be scored according to the following criteria:
- Potential for impact: solutions that address or ameliorate the challenge theme in a significant and meaningful way.
- Potential for scale: solutions that can scale to impact a large number of farmers, or significantly improve the conditions of the agricultural landscape.
- Business model: applicants have demonstrated or provided a roadmap for developing a viable and sustainable business model for generating revenues and growing.
- Inclusion: solutions that are easy to adopt and affordable in a Sub-Saharan African context, including accessible to smallholder farmers.
- Partnership potential: Is there potential for meaningful partnerships with other organizations and DATs to amplify reach and impact?
Awards & Benefits
- The top 15 submissions (the “Finalists”) will be sponsored to travel to the “Africa-Korea Agtech Innovation Summit” in Nairobi, Kenya, in February 2023, with all travel and accommodation expenses covered.
- The winning solution will potentially be offered an opportunity to join the One Million Farmers Platform in Kenya.
- Finalists have networking opportunities with key global ecosystem players including Kenyan government and World Bank stakeholders and prominent accelerators and venture capital firms (VCs).
- Learning opportunities and field trips to some of Kenya’s agri-innovation sites.
- Media exposure and features in World Bank publications and channels.