The Inspire Hackathon was held in Kampala Uganda in spring 2020. The hackathon started in March and it concluded on 6th May. The event was attended by more than 200 registered hackers from 42 countries. The hackathon was organized in 10 teams addressing 10 challenges that covered agriculture, food security, desert locust, citizen science, traffic and more.
We are happy to share the testimonies of the four fellows who attended the Inspire Hackathon in Kampala, Uganda.
Well,.. I must admit I have myself not performed to my expectations. Come next Hackathon; I wish to give a visible contribution.
The challenge has been a true learning ground for me & it has brought to my notice a number of opportunities available for people interested in exploiting agriculture using the easily accessible tools.
Having worked on ground with farmers, I had the pleasure to reflect & also understand the many bottlenecks to feasible technological/solution utilization & adoption.
I have sure been able to clearly map this gap which to me is the most important of all (Understanding the problem).
I believe there's a lot of potential for SmartAfriHub to solve the many challenges on ground.
The introduction of free user focused applications such as layman is sure a step in the right direction as this transfers the power of planning from the bigger Authorities to the hands of the local unempowered farmer.
One other powerful potential of The SmartAfriHub community is that now we are able to look at the problem from all perspectives which I think were initially not so practical or available. It gives more detail when you view a problem both Bottom-up & Up-bottom from all corners.
The knowledge sharing aspect is one powerful factor that can't go unmentioned.
Step-by-step! Rome wasn't built in a single day. There's still Space & Time for more improvements.
I understand the key objective of the Inspire Hackathons are to empower individuals to do it themselves. So in the meantime I appeal to us all to keep on testing the freely available tools & also plan on putting (publishing) up content or information that can spark decision making for the local farmer so us to enlighten & empower our farmers as well.
It’s a process I know...a gradual one. But when we start it will flow…
I enjoyed every minute of it.
The Webinars were educative/informative. I was excited to learn of SmartAgriHubs/ SmartAfriHubs. This was in line with my current work in Kenya and Africa, establishment of community/co-operative driven, Youth-led, technological FarmHubs and FoodHubs in every ward in Kenya, a model that has since been adopted in South Africa to help the Aquaculture communities offering them extension and value addition services.
FarmHubs serve as Training Centers, Agribusiness Research/ Incubation Centers, Data Collection Centres, engaging Youth and Women in the Agriculture Value Supply Chain, addressing both Generation and Gender Gaps in Farming activities.
QGIS mapping training session and availability of tools was of great value to our FarmHubs and FoodHubs which are currently engaged in digitisation of farms, setting up a farmers registry and mapping of Households Consumption especially in the informal settlements so as to better inform production of nutritious Foods in an effort to help the Government in its fight against undernourishment, child stunted growth, child wasting, child mortality. Child stunted growth is currently at 26% in Kenya.
Through the SmartAfriHub social space I was able to connect with researchers and developers whose immense knowledge of technology and it's application in Agriculture will better guide and inform GODAN's P4CDA FarmHubs. Introduction to Copernicus was an eye opener to the possibilities of generating better data.
I joined the Kampala INSPIRE Hackathon as a novice, through a twitter link. At first, I did not know what exactly I was getting myself into: I had not participated in the Nairobi INSPIRE Hackathon, 2019. My only experience was working with mapping software, more specifically ArcGIS and QGIS.
It is an engagement I have enjoyed all through,particularly the level of interaction we have had within the group. I appreciate the skills learnt, especially in the advancement of Citizen science and phenological studies. The fact that this has been a multilingual, multiracial and multicultural engagement representing our diversities gives credence to the idea that we need all to address the challenges for all. At a time when COVID-19 is still a global scare, what more could we ask for?
Coming from a Soil Science background, the nature of my work has involved working directly with farmers in Uasin-Gishu County in western Kenya. Most of what I learnt in school is what I teach the farmers. I have found the Hackathon experience an eye opener to the vast opportunities in the digital space, especially so in African Agriculture. More importantly, it has become a necessary skill addition to my professional growth, now that I can reliably, using a myriad of digital platforms to Extract, extrapolate and manipulate and predict scenarios in my current focus areas. This is an area open for further studies as I seek to bridge soil science and digital tools. I acknowledge now, more than ever before, the enormous need for data,especially in local agricultural contexts, illustrated in the figure below.
Figure 1. A maize farm in Uasin Gishu plateau. What data can we extract from this field? (Source:Author)
My interest in risk mitigation strategies using digital tools has gone a notch higher, so is my interest in leveraging digital skills for maximum output. I represent a growing number of youths who are willing to venture into agriculture with a new mindset, that of using knowledge to do agriculture.
I am open to further collaborations of this nature,whether local and international, as we set our eyes to the now imminent digital revolution coming - the Blockchain. This will be a data powered platform, without which African farmers might lose out.
I appreciate all the contributors to this platform, both the Active one and the silent ones. My Plea: please don’t deactivate your numbers or your emails after this (the presentation). We can call this as the head start, or the start of a digital revolution in Agriculture. Other organisations working in this area are going to be of benefit to this group (and others). I will be reaching out quite often soon, to the resource persons as I develop my academic proposal around the concepts learnt.
I joined the Nairobi Hackathon last year though I didn't participate much, only followed the webinars, however that was still helpful because my contact was saved and that was how I was invited to challenge 2.
My first hand communication is an inquiry I made to the Kenyan Coordinator Mr. Sam in order to better understand the scope of the task. At first the greatest challenge was to acquire the data but it came to my knowledge that there is a lot of data at our disposal thanks to the members who uploaded links and website sources for data.
Coming from a GIS background, I have learnt a lot through the webinars (which I will definitely rewatch) and brainstorming sessions in the group; ranging from tools to available resources especially in regard to agriculture and food sustainability. I would like to thank the members for their excellent contribution that has been instrumental in achieving the set goal. I sincerely look forward to further interactions as we grow and make data driven decisions to support and further smart agriculture in Africa.
Truly when we come together great things happen.
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