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Calling for agritech innovators help to increase the uptake of agricultural innovation by farmers in developing countries

Article by Liliya Serazetdinova, KTN

Agriculture is an important sector for many developing countries, both to drive economic development but also to support poverty reduction and boost food and nutrition security. Department for International Development (DFID) published last year the latest evidence and a conceptual framework to design agriculture policies and programmes. Technology and innovation are seen as one of the key drivers of productivity growth and value addition. Agricultural innovation in developing countries, particularly Africa, is low. For example, the share of cultivatable land planted with modern crop varieties in Africa is only 28%. This compares with 65% globally. Most of the poorest people in Africa (75%) live in rural areas. They rely on agriculture and livestock for their livelihoods.

 

How can innovation in UK agriculture help developing countries?

How can innovation in the UK agriculture help to promote agricultural transformation focused on commercialisation and agroindustry development, to create jobs and raise incomes and, on the other, facilitating a long-term rural transition from subsistence agriculture to off-farm job opportunities?

The UK’s agri-tech sector is worth more than £14 billion and employs over half a million people. The agri-tech sector is undergoing an exciting transformation, developing new technologies to expand food production whilst reducing the impact on the environment; pushing the UK towards the forefront of global agricultural innovation. Over the last 5 years, UK Government invested £160 million in the UK agriculture to improve the translation of research into practice, through a £70 million government investment in an Agri-Tech Catalyst, and £90 million for Centres for Agricultural Innovation.

 

Agri-Tech Catalyst

£16 million was recently invested by the UK government in twenty-four innovative agri-tech through the Round 5 of the Agri-Tech Catalyst. The successful projects in the fifth round include the development of a robot that accurately eliminates and controls weeds, strategies to prevent potato greening, and a technology that will help fruit farmers monitor and control the storage of British apples.

Round 6 of the Agri-Tech Catalyst opened on 13 July 2016, focusing on international development projects.The Department for International Development (DFID) is funding Round 6 of the Agri-Tech Catalyst. The aim of this competition is to increase the pace and scale of uptake of agricultural innovation by farmers in developing countries and to achieve:

  • a sustained reduction of poverty and hunger for smallholder farmers
  • a sustainable intensification in developing country agriculture
  • improvements in human health and diversity in diets and nutrition
  • a positive impact on rural income and food security
  • opportunities for trade in agricultural products

The following areas are priorities for DFID funding in Round 6:

  • integrating smallholders into supply chains
  • meeting quality standards and improving productivity
  • creating new supply chains
  • increasing the value of production to smallholders
  • improving access to appropriate innovation in developing countries
  • innovation that increases rural income through improved processing / storage
  • control of crop pests, weeds and diseases

 

Join us at a consortia-building workshop

The Agri-Food team of the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) are organising a free consortia-building workshop to promote Round 6 of the Agri-Tech Catalyst Competition, designed to help businesses and researchers develop innovative solutions to global challenges in the agritech sector. The aim of this workshop is to enable potential applicants to get a better understanding of the competition process, rules and scope, and to facilitate networking and consortia building. To register to the event please go to this link. KTN is actively promoting this event to organisations that have links with developing countries, or international supply chains.

 

Example of funded projects

The examples of projects that will target challenges in developing countries include five projects that were funded through the Round 5 of the Agritech Catalyst:

  • Aflascope: sample extraction procedures for improved aflatoxin management, Partners: Crop-Innovations; Gorta Self Help Africa; Bora Biotech Ltd; Agsenze Ltd; Secure Harvest Ltd and PepsCAgo Ltd.

  • Rapid and cost effective ‘on-site’ detection of Cacao swollen-shoot virus (CSSV), Partners: Mars Chocolate UK; WCF Ghana-CocoaAction and the University of the West of England (UWE).

  • Supply chain development in Kenya - UK Agritech to improve rural livelihoods, Partners: James Finlay Ltd; Dudutech Limited; Forum for the Future; University of Reading and University of Lincoln.

  • Improving consistency of yields and quality of large-scale and small-holder bean production in Kenya by precision management of soil, water and pathogens, Partners: Provenance Partners Ltd; Vegpro (Kenya) Ltd; East Malling Research; WeatherQuest Ltd and DuduTech Kenya Ltd

  • DryGroAF (DAF) water saving technology to grow biomass for animal feed, Partners: CO2i Ltd; XL Horticulture; Rothamsted Research and World Vision Kenya.

 

Article by Liliya Serazetdinova, KTN

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