This week we feature the thoughts of Tech4Agri team member Christopher Bascombe. #Didyouknow it’s his first blog post ever! He writes:
Farming has turned into an era of ‘swag’, and we’re not talking about stylish confidence. We’re talking about ROBOTS. – Christopher, Tech4Agri
Meet SwagBot, a remotely-controlled and revolutionary robot used to watch and shepherd animals as well as monitor farmers’ crops.
Conceived and created from the researchers at the University of Sydney and the Australia Centre for Field Robotics, the SwagBot is impending robotic innovation that was designed to plaster the issue of herding in remote areas of Australia.
With its shoebox appearance, it boasts several key feats and usefulness to the farm. These include obstacle traversal, plant and weed monitoring, transportation, aerial vehicle control and rugged terrain chassis.
You’ve always had that great idea but never really took steps to make it a reality…and then you see someone do exactly what you wanted.
Immediately you are frustrated but also amazed that someone else would not only came up with a new process or object that solves the same problem you were trying to solve but also do so impeccably and on their way to success.
This was the case with Team Nutrigela group of University students backed by Tech4agri to enter the Thought for Food Challenge. Covered many times on this blog the challenge seeks to engage youth in preparing sound business models and products/services to solve the looming challenge of “How do we feed 9+ billion people by 2050?”
My idea is the best!
Team Nutrigel’s idea: Create an organic material that absorbs and holds water and nutrients to support producers and gardeners in combating drought and to better water management.
We were not successful but we tried and as you should know by now nothing is wrong with failing.
“Solid Rain is a potassium based powder which is capable of absorbing water up to 500 times its size. Solid Rain acts as a personal underground reservoir that retains water in the roots of any plant. This retained water is then slowly dispersed in the soil, keeping it constantly hydrated.”
As with good practice CTA established performance indicators and used tracking tools to follow the progress of the event hashtag and to ensure outputs from the conference.
Outputs include, blog posts, videos, photos, live tweets, facebook posts, a storify summary, live web casting and of course a new crop of social reporters.
Truly it was a milestone has this was the first major occurrence of social media being used for agricultural activity in the region. Our results speak for us.
Overall Stats: Using the tool Audiense we have:
199 photos, 366 users, 5200 tweets and 7.51 million impressions.
Sentiments: 59.8% positive 6.9% negative
Top 10 – Most mentioned handles
Gender: 22.97% women 26.5% men
We killed it! Special thanks to the team!
But what about the conference?
Well I bet you are wondering…was it another talk shop. Of course there will be! It’s the Caribbean and once you are dealing with politicians there will be empty vessels making a lot of noise.
However discussion is key to any plan, therefore the closed door sessions among the region’s ministry officials was expected.
The problem in our part of the world is that implementation later down the road takes an unbelievable amount of time so much so that years from now, it is likely we will be talking about the same topics, just spun in a different way.
The event was well organized but still ran over time often. This can be quite a difficult situation especially if some of the work presented is not that great or overrated.
Regardless I must commend several participants who really wish the best for regional agriculture and shared their experiences/best practices, earnestly and with passion.
Passion reigned supreme
As social reporters our team had to ensure we covered all sessions. The chefs for development and agribusiness innovation sessions were of noted popularity due to the passion that was shared among participants.
Truly it was contagious.
It is this passion that our team tried to capture live. Following this they wrote key points entwined their opinion to formulate their blog posts which you can view on the CTA social reporting blog.
We’ll have other posts from this event but in the mean time use the links above to see some of the outputs of the event.
Over the last few decades technology in agriculture has been growing and developing. Modern farmers and agricultural operators are developing new technologies and innovations each day to increase production and productivity. One of the latest trends developing today is the introduction of DRONE technology.
Isn’t it interesting to see how this toy looking gadget could make a positive input into agriculture? Technology and innovation has no limits to shape, size, form or fashion,which is quite intriguing to me.
So what is a DRONE? How does this associate or affect agriculture. Some people may know drones as a flying machine used in the military as a weapon of warfare. Others may know it as an aerial craft with multiple cameras.
In the agri world world the drone we speak of is the aerial craft or unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with high resolution detailed imagery, thermal imaging and multi spectral cameras. the agriculture(more…)
Finally Tech4Agri made it to Tobago, the sister isle of Trinidad. A visit has been in the works for quite some time. However we decided to make the sacrifice..financially…to get there and do as much as we can…. and it paid off.
We covered the #Tobago #Bluefoodfestival and it exceeded expectations!
A unique food festival
Blue food refers to roots and tubers primarily Dasheen (Taro) which when cooked has a bluish type of color.
Other roots include cassava, sweet potato, eddoes and yam which can be grouped with dumplings, plantains or fig (the latter are related crops, the first being ripe and the second green)
These items are all collectively referred to as ‘provision’ then topped with meats of all varieties, particularly ‘wild meat’
Wild meat refers to just that, meats which are not farmed but caught in the wild.
These include hog, conchs (a type of shell fish), iguana, mat (a type of lizard which we learned is called ‘sally’ in Tobago) as well as common ones such as pork,duck, rabbit and chicken.
Not only are meats on the menu but you would find a wide variety of extremely innovative products.
Ever heard of garlic wine? How about sweet potato wine, dasheen ketchup/pepper sauce or avocado ice cream ? For those of you readers who live outside the Caribbean, I’m not joking. I ate a lizard leg and it was delicious!
Do you engage with your fellow agriyouth? Do you work together? Support, motivate or collaborate with those in your field? If not you definitely should be!
The video below show a great example of such engagement…
So let’s recap. In the video above, we saw ICTs being used to record the experiment, mechanical technology, transportation capabilities of the vehicle not to mention the communication, knowledge and experiences being shared among these agri-stakholders.
Hope you saw what I saw 😀
Speaking seriously, this video, though quite fun and entertaining, came about via the aforementioned engagement with fellow agriyouth.
The widely know app, allows instant communication. There has been such an exchange among the group of agripreneurs over the last few months, that has been nothing short of motivating and in full support of the activities of all participants.
It has led to healthy business conducted among participants but being youth oriented, the occasional joke or video is posted in the group.
The video you watched of above is of such media that sometimes comes from the group.
I was so interested. Not just for the fun of that vehicle going through the farm but its actual applications for transporting crops throughout the planting or harvesting processes.
Everyday more and more agribusinesses are being birthed online via social media and other ICT applications. Tech4Agri itself is an example of this with our businesses provide support services in media and content production.
A report by the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), supported by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), highlights the uptake and use of ICTs in value chains in the Caribbean. Mobile applications, drones, marketing platforms, extension services, and databases are just some of the many ways ICTs are being applied in the region for private businesses and some institutions.
So whats new?
You should know by now that people ‘eat with their eyes’ As a result the foodie culture has all but taken over social media with hundreds of businesses using picture and video based social media to build an audience, grow clientele and see their business flourish.
‘Eat ah Food’ is an example of such. It’s about a celebration of food from the Trinbagonian perspective, highlighting the food and beverages we have to offer, as well as all the ingredients that bring them to the table.
Similar to this business is the series ‘Foodie nation’whichpromotes the Caribbean basin using the universal language of food.
These businesses are partnering with others on media projects and the like to meet the demand for recipes/trends in the foodie market. There’s always room for new types of flavors, tastes and foods.
More on the communicative side of things are recently launched websites;
‘Farming Is In’ an online agricultural directory and resource center armed with special tools, designed to promote agricultural produce, educate farmers and the general public on everything agricultural.
‘Caribbean Agribusiness’ which seeks to create a one-stop website where all stakeholders can contribute content and share ideas to promote the development of the sector thus resulting in greater food security, enhanced intra and extra regional trade and increased foreign exchange earnings for the region.
Both are focused on business to business activity, aimed at linking farmers directly to their needed market, cutting out the middleman and giving them back profits at the farm gate as well as decision making power. This is finally happening in the region on a regular basis.
These types of stakeholders – small to medium agribusinesses, start ups as well as other private entities are finding their own way to make themselves sustainable,sharing knowledge and facilitating their own growth through ICTs. The uptake has been slow but it has never stopped. Kudos to these businesses and the few institutions for their efforts as their actions move the agri-sector forward.
Near the end of October the region will see a return of the Caribbean Week of Agriculture. (CWA) The big question is will it be another reunion of agricultural stakeholders?
The answer: yes, it will.
Fortunately through various activities Tech4agri has been able to attend three of the past CWA events. And we have realized something. CWA is the place to reconnect with agri stakeholders across the region.
Persons with whom you may have worked with in the past, done business with or even gone to school with are likely to be there. Those in particular who have been dedicated to agriculture not only in their countries but also at the national level and through regional initiatives view CWA has the opportunity progress towards greater regional development.
Tech4agri is truly experiencing growth, slowly but surely! This week we have yet a another new contributor to our blog from team member Krystle. This would be her first time blogging having been a part of our social media training held a couple months ago. Her assignment: The Thought for Food Challenge.
As an ambassador to this great initiative we gave Krystle information concerning the competition and asked her to write her thoughts on it. She wrote:
Our feature this week is geared towards University level, agripreneurs and innovators. having read my fellow team member Robert’s post earlier, I felt his opening was of great importance. He said:
“As the human population on the planet grows our demand for resources continue grow with them. However growth on the scale that our species has experienced in the 20th Century and into the 21st century is not sustainable and we are rapidly approaching our planets carrying capacity using modern agricultural practices which have been proven to be unsustainable.” – Robert, Blogger & Country Rep (USA) @ Tech4Agri
Stemming from this, we understand that as populations continue to grow, the carrying capacity of that environment increases, thus the need for more resources.
Our unhealthy practices of the past has left an enormous trace of inefficiency and unsuitability.
Therefore, the development of new technologies and sustainable innovations to revolutionize agriculture and minimize the gap initiated by our inefficiency is essential to provide nutritious food to our growing global population and help solve the problem of wastage.
As an up and coming agripreneur and also as a new member of the Tech4Agri team, you often find yourself with ideas, goals or just thoughts on how to turn or change the world of food and agriculture.
How can brilliant and passionate minds like ourselves who care about food and agriculture come together to help make a difference and experience the creative power of leaders in the industry? How can we bridge the gap between innovators and investors?
THOUGHT FOR FOOD aka TFF is a global movement of innovators dedicated to finding the answer to the biggest question facing our generation:“How to feed 9+ billion people by 2050?”