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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#TFFSUMMIT is on!

TFF logo

It’s finally here!!!!

The 2015 Thought for Food Summit takes place today and Tech4Agri will be there live! The event is held in Lisbon, Portugal a beautiful city with rich culture, and food that serves as a prominent hub for entrepreneurship & innovation.

Meet the finalists

Hundreds of teams from universities all around the world entered the TFF Challenge, each diverse, motivated and brave enough to tackle the challenge of “How to feed 9 billion people by the year 2050?” Can you imagine the ingenuity coming out of such a competition!

From improving post harvest losses with the use of thermochromic and hydrochromic labels to an alternative meat product derived from insects; from roof top and vertical farming to community action and cooperative skill development these teams have applied science, technology, communication and simple innovation to create amazing ideas that can certainly contribute to solving this global problem of food availability and access.

Following their hard work the finalist teams had a stellar bootcamp where they developed their ideas even futher and practiced their eventual live pitch which will be held on the second day of the summit. The best to them all! View their projects at the TFF Website.

The TFF Challenge 2015 finalists at their development bootcamp. Picture courtesy Thought for Food

The TFF Challenge 2015 finalists at their development bootcamp. Picture courtesy Thought for Food

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Producers on the ‘Innocentive’ – Part 1

Producers on the Innocentive1

The first in our series begins with an experimental set up by the manager of the Victory Country Ministry of Food Production Office, Saleem.

Though there are many tasks for this agricultural office which services the urban to rural area of Princess Town in south Trinidad, Saleem understands the importance of research and development.

Operating on an aquaponics system, Saleem planned and established the station by using very little space, thoughtfully placing the tank of tilapia fish, the locally preferred species for the craft underneath its raised hydroponics bed.

What is more striking however is the variety of items being grown in this one station.

The set up has lettuce, the most common of crops grown on hydroponic systems as well as chadon beni (cilantro), thyme, watercress, parsley and to one’s disbelief a full sized tomato plant laden with growing produce.

The set up combines hydroponic  pvc pipe lines which feed the lettuce and patchoi, in addition to a gravel bed which provide a steady base for the root systems of the other herbs/spices and the tomatoes.

As expected both the lines and the gravel bed are supplied by the half barrel tank of tilapia beneath the frame of the structure.

The structure itself was built by Saleem and his team giving node to the design and construction skill set using easy to access material.

Drainage from the lines and the gravel bed flow back into the tialpia tank after providing rich nutrients to the plants closing the cycle and ensuring stable growth.

Saleem and company are testing to see which vegetables/herbs grow best in the system; a simple set up with an important goal as many aquaponics and hydroponic producers usual grow one major crop.

By proving that multiple crops can grow in the same system, it is possible that this ‘aquaponic intercropping’ can assist in the prevention of pests or bacteria, if any as some herbs can act as a deterrent. This notion requires further research and development.

Additionally producers that grow multiple crops will then have multiple sources of income, as the risk of failure of the system followed by the loss of a mono-crop is reduced.

Saleem’s efforts are directly beneficial to farmers due to his standing within the local ministry’s office. The initiative is of his doing meaning him and his team qualify as ‘innocentive’

Interview: D Smart Farm of Dominica

Engaging youth from as young as possible in sustainable agriculture. Source: D Smart Farm

Engaging youth from as young as possible in sustainable agriculture. Source: D Smart Farm, Dominica

Tech4agri has long since expanded its topic base to include many aspects of agribusiness. On the nature island of the Caribbean, Dominica, agriculture remains one of the major industries which support its economy. As a result many Agribusinesses and like minded stakeholders are present. In this feature we examine the efforts of “D Smart Farm” an initiative which seeks to contribute to the local agriculture sector from the ground up in a variety of ways. Here is an interview with Ms. Dawn Francis, representative of D Smart Farm.

Keron: What are the activities and purpose of D Smart Farm?

Dawn: D-Smart Farm teaches and educates students and visitors on the importance of organic farming and sustainability utilizing the principles of permaculture. Our partner NGO, Ecobalance has embarked on a biodiversity centre for learning which has been funded from the Global Environmental Small Grants Project at D-Smart Farm which is located at the foothills of one of the world’s heritage sites, the Morne Trois Pitons National Park.This site has been funded from the United Nations Small Grants Programme.

Keron: Any standout strategy for the business/org?

Dawn: We have both onsite visits as well as school site visits. The latter is long term in that we schedule multiple engagement sessions with the children of several schools in order to teach our principles and then depending on the available resources of the school we establish a school garden. Other services include:

  • Local /Foreign Farm Tours
  • Workshops(organic farming, permaculture, food safety, composting.)
  • Our Biodiversity Learning Centre is also quite active.

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Tech4agri would not be the same without a constant update of the latest technological applications which can be found in today’s world. As we all know mobile applications lead the way in development making it’s way into every field imaginable. For developing countries this maybe a setback as although mobile phone penetration is widespread and commonplace, the network infrastructure necessary to physically utilize mobile apps may not be as up to date as it should be.

However, there is certainly no harm in being aware of what exists. In addition there are many other outlets that can be of use almost anywhere. Simple databases and other online resources such as tech4agri itself is readily available. Here is your update on what’s out there:

Apps Resource and more 1

The Leftover swap app

Leftover Swap is an application that seeks to reduce food wastage. In many developed countries large portions of food are served at all types of food outlets. However much of it is thrown away going to wast. “The app. that is expected to launch later this month. will let users barter or give away their unwanted restaurant remainders. Users who don’t want their leftovers will snap a photo of their food and post it to the app, then anyone in the area can arrange a pick up or delivery.” At the same time it brings a social aspect to food exchange in that you are able to meet potential “food takers and food givers” through the development of a community. One major red flag that I have observed is the issue of health and food safety. Only time will tell how the creators of this app will tackle this issue.

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