TechInPacific – Digital innovations in Pacific region have made a major boost especially in agriculture and nutrition sectors. The importance of digital innovation in the region can be seen through the latest Pacific AgriHack competition where three promising solutions emerged as the winners.
For your information, most of the Pacific population makes a living from agriculture. Therefore, digital innovations can help to boost the sector and make the people to improve their livelihood.
In December 2018, the CTA organized an agricultural event called Pacific AgriHack Lab. The event was held in Tonga and 15 teams from six different countries in Pacific were selected as the finalists. It was part of the Innov4AgPacific project. From the event we can see great enthusiasm for agricultural technologies.
All selected participants spent two days of training in important areas of agribusiness such as access to finance, designing a viable business model, as well as understanding intellectual property rights. At the end of the training, three teams were selected for their innovations. Each of the winners received €5,000 to develop their business and market their digital innovations.
The winning teams provided solutions in which to solve specific problems in the value chain. For example, a Fijian company, TraSeable Solutions Pte Ltd, has built TraSeable Farms, a mobile application and blockchain platform for producers, buyers, logistics providers, cooperators, processors, and exporters. It fills the information gap in the agriculture and fishery sector with the platform.
The platform enables all players in the value chain to access information, facilitate logistics, and provide training for them. Moreover, farmer organizations and fishing companies in the region can register their products and track them through the platform in which it is accessible to all stakeholders.
The other two innovations that received €5,000 were MyKana app and MalaAgri app. MyKana app was developed by the South Pacific University and the National Food and Nutrition Center of Fiji. The platform address nutritional issues in the region, such as obesity and anaemia. It allows users to record their food consumption and compare their actual diet to a balanced diet. Moreover, it provides a list of local products and foods. The app can be used both online and offline which is very accessible to those living in areas with poor connection.
Meanwhile, MalaAgri app is designed by MYABA and currently in the development phase. The app aims at facilitating and promoting the supply of pork and poultry products. It connects association members with each other and with potential buyers. Additionally, the app also provides training tools and information for users. According to the developer, the app can significantly reduce operating costs.
Judith Francis, Senior Coordinator of the CTA’s Science and Technology Policy Program spoke about how technology plays the key role in transforming agriculture sector in Pacific.
“Digitisation will increase production efficiency, reduce losses including post-harvest losses, improve preparedness and responsiveness to natural disasters, and finally bring transparency from production to the market. Nevertheless, the focus must be on effective user engagement for sustainability.”
Francis added, “Digitisation also has the potential to attract young people and modernise the sector, given the ageing of the agricultural workforce and the fact that land is increasingly left fallow – in Tonga, for example, 40% of agricultural land is not used. Initiatives such as MYIBA’s MalAgri application in the Solomon Islands have an enormous potential to modernise the agricultural sector. However, these initiatives need financial support, infrastructure and mentoring.”