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The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in partnership with Land O’Lakes International Development and the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research ran the Fall Armyworm Tech Price at the recently concluded AfricaCom Conference in Cape Town, South Africa. The prize was looking for digital innovation that could alleviate the losses African farmers face due to the spread of the fall armyworm; a voracious pest that decimates crops out in the fields.

The startups that participated in this competition underwent co-creation, evaluation, and field testing of their prototypes. The prize had 228 entries from startups across the world; though 80% were based in Africa. The best six startups were awarded a total cash prize of $450,000 and were announced last week at the AfricaCom conference.

The Nairobi-based agri-tech startup Farm.ink was the overall winner among the six startups announced and it secured a $150,000 cash prize for their solution to the fall armyworm menace. This startups solution has an integrated Fall Armyworm Virtual Advisor into its Africa Farmers Club mobile service.

It is an online platform with a chatbot that readily serves over 150,000 farmers from across Africa. Farmers can get information around the clock about matters fall armyworm identification and treatment.

The first runner-up was Uganda’s Akorion which has an advanced fall armyworm diagnostic in its EzyAgric app. The second runner-up is the US-based AfriFARM. They both went home with $75,000 each.

Two Ghanaian startups – Farmerline and Henson Geodata Technologies – were awarded $50,000. They were followed by Nigeria’s eHealth Africa, which has an early stage mobile app that serves users tailored information on combatting fall armyworm.

The judging panel was made up of globally-recognized experts in agriculture, technology entrepreneurship, impact investment.“

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