US announces $300,000 challenge for data-driven solutions for food security


KATHMANDU, Feb. 10: The US Agency for International Development (USAID), through the US government's Feed the Future Initiative, is looking to innovators to help Nepali farmers increase value from agricultural productivity.

A press release issued by the US Embassy in Kathmandu said the USAID challenges innovators to find tools that help Nepali smallholder farmers to improve productivity. "This USAID-funded competition will award $300,000 for solutions tailored for Nepal's varied terrain," it added.

The competition aims at generating better collection and use of data to help farmers and community actors to make effective choices to enhance their productivity and market planning in a sustainable way, it said, adding: "Four awardees, who best demonstrate solutions for smallholder farmers and Nepal's agriculture sector as a whole, will win cash prizes and mentoring."

Peter Malnak, USAID Nepal Mission Director, said: "Aggregated data on weather patterns, pests, soils, and crop management is crucial information for smallholder farmers. Localized, in-season insights could help to make better decisions about seeds, irrigation, fertilizers and pesticide use, improving yields and efficiency," he added.

According to the release, the solutions should be able to meet one or more of the criterion like produce timely insight for improving the production of rice, other cereals and vegetables; support a more sustainable use of Nepal's natural resources -- that is increase biodiversity, use water more sustainably, improve use of land -- enable the agricultural market, both producers and suppliers, by providing extension services and connections to agricultural data; improve the influence and application of agricultural products in Nepal -- that is better use of fertilizer, generation of quality hybrid/open-pollinated seeds -- and generate timely and actionable information to manage agricultural productivity risks due to disasters, like drought and flooding.

The competition will be open for entries until April 6, the release added.(MR)

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