EVENTS | Digital 4 Agriculture Weather Weekend Indaba

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Digital 4 Agriculture Weather Weekend Indaba

From September 21st-23rd, 2018, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, Make-IT in Africa, the Agency for Business & Economic Development (AWE) and Strathmore University (@iLabAfrica) hosted the Digital 4 Agriculture Weather Weekend to explore the potential of integrated digital solutions in agriculture.

The aim was to develop use cases for the further development of a digital platform ”Digital 4 Agriculture”. About 50 representatives from various companies such as World Wildlife Fund, Impact Hub in Kigali, Agripride, and Viamo attended the event. Start-ups involved in the agricultural sector were also present, for example Insuretech company Grassroots Bima, Quantcom Technologies, and Vakava Africa. 

Below you can see an overview of all three days of the event:

Day 1: Field Trip to Farms and Official Opening of the Weather Weekend
Day 2: Introduction to the Digital 4 Agriculture framework & start of use case challenge
Day 3: Use case challenge & next steps
Day 1: Field Trip to Farms and Official Opening of the Weather Weekend

To get an insight of the rural reality of smallholder farmers in Kenya, the weekend started with an excursion to 5 farms in the the Upper Matasia area of Ngong, a sub-county of Kajiado County. A total of 51 people attended the excursion including representatives of various companies such as World Wildlife Fund, Impact Hub Kigali, Agripride, Viamo, IBM, SAP, GIZ, and AWE, as well as several tech start-ups involved in the agricultural sector.

The visits were an eye opener to many attendants as it highlighted the various challenges small-scale farmers face every day.

Officially the event kicked-off in the evening at the Intercontinental Hotel in Nairobi where the vision behind a joint digital shared service platform using big data (“Digital 4 Agriculture” – D4A) was elaborately  presented.

All pictures were taken by Victor Anyura

Day 2: Introduction to the Digital 4 Agriculture framework & start of use case challenge

Main topic of the second day was an introduction to the Digital 4 Agriculture framework. It began with opening remarks from Dr. Joseph Sevilla, Director of @iLab Africa, and was followed by an an inspiring talk from Dr. Jan Schwaab, Head of the GIZ programme “Make-IT in Africa”. To improve the performance of the agriculture sector in Kenya the speakers emphasized that AgriTech start-ups need to gain access to pertinent data and other digital assets and tools to develop services for smallholder farmers.

Dr. Philip Fuerst (IBM) and Michael Pittelkow (SAP) presented a joint vision of a technical concept, i.e. architecture of “Digital 4 Agriculture”, including access to a database that can be used by start-ups and its core attributes: collaborative, open and easy accessible. Apart from the discussion about the technical approach another statement made clear: There is no sustainable solution without a viable business model. 5 AgriTech start-ups therefore presented their business models.

Furthermore one of the key segments of the Weather Weekend was the Design Thinking sprint run by IBM Innovation Centre Leader East Africa, Silas Macharia. The aim of the sprint was to develop use cases for digitalization in agriculture as well as methods of implementation.

All pictures were taken by Victor Anyura

Day 3: Use case challenge & next steps

The final day of the Weather Weekend began with an overview and technical presentation of the IBM Weather Company by Julia Wiegel and Sebastian von Dobenech. This presentation explained how the platform works, including the API integration support as well as the various packages it comes with.

After that Kelvin Kiana, IBM Engineer, and Reha Yurdakul, IBM CTO Technical Leader East, West and Central Africa, went further into details about how to operate on the IBM Weather Data Platform.

Next, the attendants went back into the design sprint where they were challenged with creating use cases for the persons introduced on Day 1.

Subsequently the Weather Weekend came to an end. Dr. Jan Schwaab and Mutembei Kariuki, Regional Coordinator Make-IT in Africa, closed the event by summing up the achievements of the Weekend and highlighted the next steps.

All pictures were taken by Victor Anyura

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