Tech4agri: the web series Ep 2 – Real Business

It’s episode two of our web series! Please view and pass on to your colleagues.

This episode focuses on our colleagues in agribusiness, D’ Market Movers.  They have been around for above 5 – 6 years and stand as a leading example of a successful agribusiness.

The co founders made full use of the ICT services that were available to them. Over time they have evolved with an impressive product listing and other innovative strategies.

They give us the tips you need to succeed in your own endeavours!

Hey Readers!

A lot has been going on with Tech4agri.  As you may remember late last year we did a survey for our upcoming projects which you responded to and give great positive feedback. So we are working hard on getting these projects together!

Fortunately we were able to launch Tech4agri: the Podcast last February but we unfortunately did not get another episode out..until now! Introducing out first episode: Thought4Food!

Thgouth4Food

Firstly, apologies in advance for the poor audio in some parts. We’re new to podcasting and just jumped right in so we are learning by doing.

This episode focuses on the threat of world hunger which many are unaware of. Our population will become significantly larger than it is now in just a few years.

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Nothing but inspiration: #tffsummit

#TFFSummit Top Left: The women that change the world, Top Right: Winners Team Innovision, Bottom Left: Runner up Team FoPo, Bottom Right: winners of the special prize and runner up, Team Aahaar. Photos Courtesy Thought for Food

#TFFSummit Top Left: The women that change the world, Top Right: Winners Team Innovision, Bottom Left: Runner up Team FoPo, Bottom Right: winners of the special prize and runner up, Team Aahaar. Photos Courtesy Thought for Food

And the winners are…

Team Innovision! You can see the shock and amazement on their faces having won the 2014 Thought for Food Challenge. Surprise was in store as there was not one, but two runner ups each winning a prize, Team FoPo and Team Aahar. The latter team took home an extra prize provided by The Kirchner Group Food Fellows making them double winners! Congratulations all around! During the event Tech4agri live tweeted and by the end of the finalists’ pitches, no one know who would be the winner. The judges needed extra time in fact to give an answer. Only then do you see how they came to their decision. Each team winning had a direct and immediate impact in reducing food waste by the billions of dollars in addition to measured social impact

Humble thoughts on winning strategies

Team Innovision developed a solar-powered micro-climate chamber for small scale farmers that increases shelf life of fruits and vegetables using an evaporation cooling system. What clearly stood out was the invention’s low cost as an affordable substitute for refrigeration to reduce food loss in developing countries, the overall contribution to food security and its potential to remove the use of a poisonous fruit and vegetable preservative used in their home country.

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Pacific and Caribbean voices echo at global research forum

This week tech4agri welcomes Faumuina Tafuna’i, Media Officer at Women in Business Development Inc.  who is based on the Pacific island of Samoa.  We feature her work as our guest blogger this month following our engagement at the IFPRI Resilience Conference. As fellow youth in agriculture and journalism we shared similar thoughts on the Caribbean presence at the conference as well as overall impressions. Give her article a read!

Pacific Caribbean High Level Panel

At least we were there!

For the first time, Pacific and Caribbean voices were heard at an International Food Policy Research Institute conference – and it won’t be the last.

Asked why the Pacific and Caribbean regions had not been included before, Chief of staff and conference director Rajul Pandya-Lorch says IFPRI are mandated to work where there is the greatest concentration of populations.

However, through the support of The Technical Centre of Rural and Agricultural Co-operation (CTA), a Pacific and Caribbean delegation of private sector, civil agencies and government sector were able to attend the conference in Ethiopia themed on “Building Resilience for Food and Nutrition and Security”.

“Each of the conferences builds on including more actors,” says Pandya-Lorch. “We saw that with the South Asia conference where this time when we announced this conference, we got an immediate phone call from South Asia with an organization wanting to run a side event.

“That’s why CTA with their experience and networks are so important. And we would hope to amplify that participation at the next conference.”

This year’s conference attracted more than 800 participants – 300 more than Pandya-Lorch had anticipated – as well as 21 side events, twice the number of the last conference hosted in Delhi.

CTA sponsored a side event with a high-level Pacific and Caribbean panel to discuss “Enhancing resilience for food and nutrition security in small island economies”. Chaired by CTA director Michael Hailu, the panel also included Gyan Acharya, UN Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States.

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Producers on the ‘Innocentive’ – Part 3

Producers on the Innocentive3

In the town of Arouca, east Trinidad lies one of the most impressive hydroponic systems in Trinidad and Tobago.

It is ideally located an urban area between major towns, access roads and also near to the Piarco international airport. This means that their for fresh produce is ready for local, regional and international markets

The Choon family trio of  producers, grow high quality hydroponically grown lettuce and they make it a point to let the general public know of this on their simple but very effectively labeling.

Also to note is their bar-code which assists in keeping production records provides tracking in the unfortunate event of a breach in food safety.

Using their available landscape the production layout is spread out and raised for easy access and to assist in preventing pest infections. It is supported by a large pump room and tank system as illustrated below.

Apart from its scale the hydroponic system is automated and can be controlled by a control panel located in the pump room as illustrated below.

Producers on the Innocentive5

The device hanging from the ceiling (bottom left hand corner) serves an important purpose. As the Choons do not reside at the location of the enterprise this device is a camera which provides a live feed of the product levels flowing within the system, that is fertilizers and other nutrients.

This live feed is accessible over the internet. Therefore when at home the Choons can monitor the system’s activity and notify a nearby relative to resolve any problems that may arise.

All other parts of the system are in line with a regular hydroponic cycle however, on a medium scale.

 Unusual to be seen are the presence of fish nets hanging around the miniature shade house, nearby their pump room which serves as a seedling production center for the enterprise.

Mr. Choon explains, “Because of our raised irrigation lines we don’t have too many insect or fungus problems but there is another pest that is prevalent…birds. They fly down and peck at the lettuce. People ‘eat with their eyes’. They will only buy what looks good. We have already made strides in producing good quality vegetables. So why not ensure it looks good as well.”

In the vein of the term ‘innocentive’ this set up is simply ingenious.

Producers on the Innocentive4

Prelude: Producers on the ‘Innocentive’

Prelude - Producers on the Innocentive

InnoCentive is a Massachusetts-based open innovation company that accepts by commission research and development problems in a broad range of domains such as engineering, computer science, math, chemistry, life sciences, physical sciences and business and frames them as “challenge problems” for anyone to solve. It gives cash awards for the best solutions to solvers who meet the challenge criteria. – Wikipedia 2014

Through the provision of their service the business helps clients to engage a world of creative and diverse on-demand talent to rapidly generate novel ideas and solve important problems. Rather than crowd-source funding for a particular project, the company outsources progressive minds with problem solving capabilities in order to meet the complex challenges of other clients.

Simply ingenious.

However tech4agri is yet to reach this stage of innovation. At this point our interest lies in the term “Innocentive” – an amalgamation of the words innovation and incentive.

This post is a prelude to a four part series on food producers from Trinidad and Tobago who are going the extra mile in their business or agri sector. These producers clearly understand that technology use leads to progress.

Although they may face challenges such as high investment or set up costs, maintenance issues and unpredictable markets these producers forge ahead and delve into the technologies that take their business to the next level of success.

Their incentive is not only to make an income and a livelihood but to see forward development of the local food sector.

The aim of this series is to dispel the notion that local or rather Caribbean agriculture is ‘backward.’ It is common place for the public to shun the sector due to negative perceptions such as extreme physical labor and an overall difficult lifestyle.

There is some truth to this as the Caribbean is a developing region with numerous small holder farmers facing problems that are far too numerous, systemic and tiresome to tell.

However without these small scale producers, food, our basic necessity would be difficult to come by. Hence the food producers featured in this series prove that progress and development of the sector can and is occurring.

They serve as a clear example of the prowess of technological application to the sector.

Over the next few weeks follow the series. Share, comment and tweet (@wiscobasco) examples of technological application in agriculture of any kind. Your opinions and comments are welcomed!

Visit tech4agri on facebook to view the prelude album: Producers on the ‘Innocentive’ Those images highlight aspects of the tech4agri blog such as agriyouth and agribusiness as well as some ‘honorable mentions’ of thoughtful stakeholders in the field who are applying technology were they can.