Entrepreneurs Pitch Tech, Partnerships and Innovation for Asia’s Farmers

Entrepreneurs Pitch Tech, Partnerships and Innovation for Asia’s Farmers
A contestant at the Feed the Future and USAID-sponsored Tech4Farmers Asia Challenge, Mridul Chowdhury, addresses a question from a judge.
Richard Nyberg, USAID

For Immediate Release

Thursday, September 14, 2017

BANGKOK — Under the Feed the Future initiative in Asia, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is building a diverse regional agricultural innovation community to test, adapt and share the latest practices and technologies with smallholder farmers in South and Southeast Asia’s emerging markets, with a focus on Bangladesh, Cambodia and Nepal.

On September 13 and14, 2017, this community came together in Bangkok at the Tech4Farmers Asia Challenge 2.0 event to explore issues that impact agricultural innovations reaching smallholder famers. This event focused on exploring ways to increase access to markets, identifying opportunities for finance and investment and highlighting efforts aimed at improving the enabling environment.

“USAID is at the forefront of market-driven innovations to tackle smallholder farmer challenges and ensure a food secure future,” Christopher Kelly, acting director of the USAID Regional Development Mission for Asia.  “From mobile applications that streamline farming operations to technologies that make farmers more resilient to shocks, this year’s lineup demonstrates that technologies will be key in the future of agriculture development.”

Many of these solutions are being identified through the Tech4Farmers Asia Challenge that seeks to identify and provide support to promising agricultural solutions in Asia.  Last year’s competition had three awardees, 1) eFishery’s Smart Fish Feeder (Indonesia) 2) EnerGaia’s Innovative Spirulina Production System (Thailand), and 3) Rhino Research’s Drying Beads (Thailand).  Award support is helping these enterprises develop sustainable business models to expand to new markets.  EnerGaia and eFishery are currently expanding to Bangladesh, while Rhino Research is in talks to expand to Cambodia. 

As part of the award package, these agricultural startups are receiving research and development (R&D) support from the Regional Innovation Hub based at Kasetsart University to further help them grow their market share. 

“The testing results and recommendations that we received from Kasetsart University have proven to be very valuable in helping us fine tune our machines for commercialization in Bangladesh,” said Gibran Huzaifah, CEO of eFishery and winner of the first round of the Tech4Farmers Asia Challenge. 

For this year’s competition at the Tech4Farmers Asia Challenge 2.0 event, 20 agricultural entrepreneurs and innovators competed in a “shark-tank” setting to win valuable support including cost-free product testing led by Kasetsart University's R&D team as well as project supported business services and end-market analysis to help the winning entrepreneurs grow the market for their innovations.

“We really appreciated this unique opportunity to pitch our vision to transform the lives of farmers by providing them with current market info, weather forecasts and other advisories through our innovative online platform, said Sibjan Chaulagain from ICT For Agri.  “Learning and meeting other similar innovators from the region has really helped me think about new possibilities to grow my business.” 

“Our team at Kasetsart University believes that it is critical for social entrepreneurs, investors, government officials and food security experts to work together towards improving the lives of farmers and promote food security,” said Dr. Poonpipope (Poon), Kasemsap, a Professor from Kasetsart University who is leading the Regional Agricultural Innovation Hub.

“This includes identifying the best practices to increase access to markets, opportunities for finance and investment, and efforts aimed at improving the enabling environment.”

Organized by the Feed the Future Asia Innovative Farmers Project managed by USAID and implemented by Winrock International and Kasetsart University, this event marks the fifth installment of the Asia Agricultural Innovation Summit Series. 

For photos of the event, visit: https://flic.kr/s/aHsm8CfdQ4

Detailed information about the Tech4Farmers Asia Challenge 2.0 is available at  http://tech4farmerschallenge.ku.ac.th/