• Wednesday, July 17, 2024
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BusinessDay

Excitement as AYuTe NextGen offers glimpse into promising future of agriculture

Agriculture technology

It was an exciting moment last Tuesday as AYuTe NextGen offered the world a glimpse into the promising future of agriculture in Africa at a global gathering in Kigali, the capital if Rwanda. AYuTe NextGen is an initiative of Heifer International, a global non-profit working to end hunger and poverty through sustainable agriculture.

AYuTe, an acronym for Agriculture, Youth and Technology, is Heifer’s flagship initiative to support promising young agritech innovators across Africa who are using technology to reimagine farming and food production across the continent.

Read also: UN boosts agriculture with farm inputs to 26,750 farmers in North-East

The Kigali gathering, which celebrated winners of the 2024 AYuTe Africa NextGen, had as theme, ‘Reimagining Africa’s Agriculture in the Next 50 Years.’ It brought together young agritech innovators and agripreneurs from across Africa, as well as stakeholders in the continent’s agriculture and youth development sectors.

Three young agritech entrepreneurs were honoured after winning in a youth-focused competition aimed to spur a tech-led revolution in Africa’s agriculture.

The first place winner is Thur Biotech, an Ethiopia-based agritech company founded by Samson Alemu. The firm produces sustainable bacterial biofertilizers that can replace chemical fertilizers and offers more efficiency for smallholder farmers while preserving soil quality.

The second-place winner is Silo Africa, a Kenya-based agritech company which was founded by Eliud Rugut. It serves smallholder farmers with digitised grain silos which mitigate post-harvest losses, safeguarding the households of smallholder farmers against climate impacts.

The third-place winner is Extension Africa, a Nigeria-based agritech company founded by Tajudeen Yahaya and provides data-driven private extension services using technology to transform rural youth into an agribusiness extension workforce, connecting smallholder farmers at the last mile to global agribusinesses, business advisory and capacity building on sustainable innovative farming methods.

Heifer International noted that the epochal event, which was attended by cabinet members from host country, as well as global and regional stakeholders, was held to inspire a new generation of young agripreneurs and innovators throughout Africa, driving a forward-looking vision for the next 50 years of agricultural transformation on the continent.

“We cannot reimagine the future of Africa’s agriculture without young people or technology; I am inspired by the innovations of all the 15 AYuTe NextGen finalists and I look forward to seeing their impact on the continent,” Eric Rwigamba, the Rwanda Minister of State for Agriculture and Animal Resources, noted in his keynote address at the event.

Rwigamba commended Heifer International for this important work and congratulated them on their global 80th year anniversary, 50 years of working in Africa and 24 years in Rwanda.

Entries for this year’s AYuTe Africa NextGen were taken from amongst the finalists of national competitions in several countries. Having passed through various stages of rigorous technical assessments, five competitors emerged to pitch their ideas to a distinguished panel of judges at the event.

Each finalist showcased an innovative agritech solution with the potential to transform the livelihoods of Africa’s smallholder farmers. After considering the presentations, and assessing the innovative ideas against set metrics, the judges reached a verdict and winners of the AYuTe NextGen Class of 2024 were announced.

“I strongly believe that the future of Africa’s agricultural transformation lies with tech-led empowerment of smallholder farmers, and I have never been more convinced of this than today. Heifer’s support so far has enabled us to build on our innovation and expand operations,” he said.

With this further validation of the importance of our work, we look to the future with optimism. This win propels us further on the path of sustainably scaling our operations and reaching more smallholder farmers across Africa,” Rwigamba noted.

Presenting the awards to the winners, Surita Sandosham, President and CEO of Heifer International, urged them to consider themselves as architects of a transformed agricultural landscape, disclosing that, at Heifer International, they are energized by the tremendous potential they see in young African innovators.

“Their creativity and dedication to developing cutting-edge solutions that empower smallholder farmers in Africa is exactly what the continent needs to build a more secure and prosperous future. We are honoured to play a role in amplifying and scaling their work and look forward to the transformative impact of their innovative ideas on agriculture,” Sandosham noted.