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South Africa seeks digital solutions to Agric sector

the concept of growing crops in the field, monitoring and analyzing data using sensors and artificial intelligence to obtain a high yield

An event was conducted by a tech non-profit Empire Partner foundation, Youth Evolve, and the Thumela Business Forum to find digital solutions to the agric sector.

The event hosted hundreds of aspirant software developers from Limpopo who had their chance to take part in a hackathon, which is using digital instruments to find solutions in the agritech sector.

The foundation seeks to engage the youths in software development, finance, marketing, and business in finding digital solutions that will enhance the productivity and profitability of farming.

More than 700 young people have taken part in the hackathon and the foundation has incubated more than 10 winning teams who have designed solutions for water, SASSA grant payments, healthcare, and education.

The Organizers said the hackathons will help imbibe the culture of innovation among the youth.

In Limpopo, this past weekend, hundreds of aspirants converged at the Vhembe Community Hall to find creative solutions to boosting small-scale farming.

According to the event hosts, Thulamela, the participants were tasked with developing new digital capabilities that will assist in transforming small-scale farming and accelerate impact towards zero hunger.

Youth taking part in the hackathon at the Vhembe community hall
Over 170 young people – including students from the University of Limpopo and the Vhembe TVET college – turned out for the province’s first hackathon.

Thulamela chairperson Ntsieni Mbulungeni said the hackathon was empowering for the youth and it had sparked awareness about finding innovative solutions to address challenges around small-scale farming communities.

“Most people had no idea what a hackathon is in many of our local institutions. We spent weeks educating people.

“As a forum, we then approached Empire Partner Foundation, which has been running hackathons to solve community challenges, and we partnered them to help us with the outreach programme. This was a historic first,” said Mbulungeni.

“This hackathon will build the foundation to give the youth the experience and confidence in using the technology to bring solutions that are relevant to improve the local economy and scale these solutions to other relevant markets”.

The organizers said they hoped the initiative would assist in creating sustainable digital solutions to farming and also improving agricultural sustainability.

Ndiimanae Rabuli, the founder of Youth Evolve, a youth-led organization that aims to empower young people from disadvantaged backgrounds through entrepreneurship, and growth opportunities, said:

“This hackathon helped my team in learning better how hackathons are run.” She added that she had tried to run a hackathon for young women previously.

Jasmine Mokwena, the coordinator of the event and marketing manager at Empire Partner Foundation, said they were pleased the event was a success.

“This was EPF’s first offsite hackathon for the team, working virtually, which proved to be a success.

“EPF is thrilled to have the opportunity in effecting change in Limpopo and for a Limpopo team to have taken the cup in their home ground, was a bonus,” she said.