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AG-TECH DEVELOPER CHALLENGE CALLS ON COMPANIES

… to develop remote-sensing data product for Cocoa Farmers globally

…grand prize of €100,000 ($115,000) and €75,000 ($86,000) will be awarded

The Ag-Tech Developer Challenge, a competition for remote-sensing, high-tech, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) and Earth-observation companies to tackle the Farm Development Plan (FDP) - a decision making and planning tool for smallholder cocoa farmers has been launched.  The AI and UAV companies are expected to build a remote-sensing data product that links to and adds value to the mobile-enabled Farm Development Plan (FDP). Through this competition participants will be stimulated to create innovative ideas. Two prizes, one of €100,000 ($115,000) and another of €75,000 ($86,000) will be awarded for the best ideas to be implemented, but all entries may still be considered for future engagement with the Rainforest Alliance. 

Enter for the competition before the 15th of March. Please click: https://www.rainforest-alliance.org/tech-challenge   to learn about contest requirements and guidelines

Smallholder farmers produce the majority of the world’s cocoa. While demand for cocoa is higher than ever, these farmers face persistent poverty, due in part to declining yields, low cocoa prices, and ever-mounting threats from climate-related pests and plant diseases.   Unfortunately, very few farmers receive timely information, training, or coaching and most lack financial means that could help overcome these challenges.

Technology, however, can offer a fast and scalable solution—and that’s why the Rainforest Alliance, Grameen Foundation, Touton, Satelligence and Waterwatch Projects created SAT4Farming, an initiative that employs digital technology and satellite imagery to create digital individualised Farm Development Plans (FDPs) that guide farmers over a seven-year period. And now, in order to make the FDPs even more precise—and to deliver FDPs to even more farmers, the Ag-Tech Developer Challenge, a competition to create a remote sensing data product to support the mobile-enabled FDPs was launched.

Acclaimed expert competition judges include Ed Parsons, Geospatial Technologist of Google; Kim Frankovich, Vice President of Cocoa Sustainability of Mars Inc.; Farouk Nyame, Technical Manager of the Cartography Unit in the Ghana Cocoa Board; and Daan de Vries, Chief Innovation and Technology Officer of the Rainforest Alliance.

Currently a field agent goes to each farm to collect and record information, whereas with remote sensing and upcoming AI technologies, the same information can be gathered much more quickly, cheaply, and precisely—and for more farmers. Remote sensing using satellite imagery, radar or drone images could be used to spot sickly trees. This example could transform the way FDPs are now created.

The SAT4Farming initiative aims to increase cocoa farmers’ yields to 1500kg per year—triple the average for Ghanaian farmers, for example—through sustainable farming methods   Contest applicants will design their remote sensing product to be piloted with cocoa farmers in Ghana, Where it is envisioned to reach 30,000 farmers by the end of 2020. The remote sensing product eventually will be used for FDPs in other cocoa producing landscapes in Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Ecuador, and Nigeria as well, with the aim of reaching about 120,000 cocoa farmers globally.

Registration before the 15th of March on: https://www.rainforest-alliance.org/tech-challenge  

Rainforest Alliance

The Rainforest Alliance: www.rainforest-alliance.org works at the intersection of business, agriculture, and   forests to make responsible business the new normal. It brings diverse allies together to address some of the most pressing social and environmental challenges of today. The vision is a world where people and nature thrive in harmony. 

Sat4Farming

SAT4Farming builds on a pilot in Indonesia where Mars Inc., the Rainforest Alliance, and Grameen Foundation partnered to create the digital FDP. It is based on a specialised agronomic model for cocoa that includes digital certification performance information. In Ghana, the integration of satellite imagery is expected to streamline the process of creating an FDP, facilitate monitoring, and provide greater insights into dynamic environmental conditions.

Farm Development Plan

The Farm Development Plan (FDP) is a decision making and planning tool for smallholder cocoa farmers, and includes agronomic practices. That they need to adopt as well as the financial investment needed to do so to increase their productivity to up to 1500 kg/hectare. In addition, it is a tool for field officers to assist cocoa farmers. With increasing their productivity through monitoring, coaching, training and financial planning. The data required for the FDP is collected by field agents from large cocoa traders such as Touton and a process for doing is already in place.

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