Akorion Secures USD$75,000 as Runners-up For USAID’s Fall Armyworm Tech Prize

Akorion has secured a grant of USD$75,000 (approx. UGX279,517,500) after their new solution; EzyArmyWorm (EAW), an enhancement of the pest and disease diagnostic in the EzyAgric app came as runners-up for USAID’s Fall Armyworm Tech Prize. Kenya’s Farm.Ink for their solution; Fall Armyworm Virtual Advisor emerged the overall winners securing a grant of USD$150,000 (approx. UGX559,035,000).

Launched in March 2018, Fall Armyworm Tech Prize sought digital innovations that could help farmers manage the recent spread of fall armyworm — a voracious agricultural pest — in Africa. With the call for application, more than 225+ submissions from across the world were received, 81% of which were from the African continent; Ghana, Uganda, Nigeria, South Africa, and Kenya. 19% were from Taiwan, Israel, UK, and U.S.

20 finalists were selected, with Uganda in mention, had two finalists; EzyArmyWorm (Akorion), and LEA (Endelea Uganda). Selecting finalists, the judging criteria was based on Digital Tools, Actionable Information, Accessibility, Potential Impact, Market Potential, and Adherence to Regulations, Privacy and Norms.

Out of the 20 finalists, 6 emerged winners of the Feed the Future Fall Armyworm Tech Prize at the AfricaCom conference in South Africa. Among the winners was EzyArmyWorm (EAW) a new feature in the EzyAgric app that was developed by Akorion. Winners were announced at the just concluded AfricaCom conference and exhibition event in Cape Town, South Africa. The winners shared the USD$450,000 cash grant where the overall winner from Kenya received USD150,000, the two runners-up from Uganda and U.S received USD$75,000 each, and the three Frontier Innovations two from Ghana and one from Nigeria received USD$50,000 each.

As mentioned above, EAW is an enhancement of the pest and disease diagnostic using proprietary AI. It allows commercial and smallholder farmers to detect moth, larva, and eggs of fall armyworm across all possible affected crops. On the other hand, it can differentiate fall armyworm from other pests, establish the stage of maturity, and share the estimated yield damage.

Akorion was represented by its Co-Founder and CTO; Zilla Mary Arach – an award winning innovator. She won herself the ‘Overall Young Achiever of the Year’ and ‘Young Achievers Award’ for Farming and Agro-Processing during the 2017 Young Achievers Awards.

For those unaware, the Fall Armyworm Tech Prize is part of the U.S. Government’s Feed the Future initiative, a global effort led by USAID to address the root causes of hunger and poverty in developing countries.

Notably, Uganda had two finalists; the other finalist was Endelea Uganda for their solution ‘LEA’. LEA is a simple digital app that was designed after extensive research and consultation with farmers to work both online and offline. The user uses the app to take a picture of the diseased plant, the app then instantly identifies whether the problem is fall armyworm, the stage of growth, and extent of crop damage. If all turn true, the app then gives treatment options and approved pesticides with their genuine suppliers.

LEA can be used by farmers directly who can operate smartphones or through extension workers and model farmers.

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