African AgriTech set to receive $2 million award

The Milken Institute and the Motsepe Foundation today announced the 25 teams receiving finalist prizes for the Milken-Motsepe Prize in AgriTech (agricultural technology), which will share $2 million award.

The 25 winners, including Hello Erf from Ethiopia, Producers Direct from Kenya, and NovFeed from Tanzania will be awarded $2 million in total prizes for innovative solutions to increase economic value to farmers in Africa. At this stage, each Finalist team will receive $10,000 to further develop and test their designs, according to the press statement from organizers of the Milken-Motsepe Prize.

Kuronga from South Africa, Esoko from Ghana, Bebeque Limited from Nigeria, Kuronga from South Africa, Karpolax from Uganda, and Village Infrastructure Angels, Slovakia testing Nigeria, are also among the 25 AgriTech selected for the prizes.

More than 3,300 people from 105 countries across 6 continents registered for the prize, which launched in April 2021. They are all now part of the Milken-Motsepe Prize community, with access to free resources and the opportunity to connect with a global network of entrepreneurs using tech for good.

“Good ideas can—and will—change the world, and we are pleased to see how many people from around the world submitted their ideas to help farmers, alleviate poverty and transform our food systems in ways that will ensure food security for generations,” said Dr. Precious Moloi-Motsepe, Co-Founder and CEO of the Motsepe Foundation.

“We are excited to see the ideas of the finalists take shape and get tested in the field. More than tech-driven innovation, we need new approaches to agri-business that protect, preserve and enhance the contributions of farmers in sub-Saharan Africa.”

An independent panel of expert judges determined the 25 teams who will receive funding and have one year to demonstrate the effectiveness of their ideas in field tests, which will be evaluated for their ability to: Increase net economic value to the farmer; Increase productivity at harvest and/or decrease post-harvest loss; Reduce costs for farmers; Provide a viable and sustainable business model; Be implemented by small and medium-sized farms in Africa; and Develop or integrate innovative technologies.

“We have structured the program to be beneficial to all who compete,” said Emily Musil Church, PhD, Senior Director at Milken Institute’s Center for Strategic Philanthropy. “More than simply a competition, we are providing opportunities for these entrepreneurs to connect, experiment, grow, and get their ideas seen. Having a robust field test period allows for data generation and adaptation in a real-world environment so the innovations can be ready for scale and further investment.”

The Milken Institute has partnered with the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) to support Finalist teams in conducting their field tests and measuring results. WFP’s deep understanding of the dynamics across the global food system and regional AgriTech trends across Africa bring immense value to the Milken-Motsepe Prize in AgriTech.

“Achieving Zero Hunger and No Poverty across the world are huge challenges that require radical action,” said Michael Dunford, WFP Regional Director for Eastern Africa. “Prize competitions like this one are powerful tools that can galvanize a global community of solvers to accelerate systems enhancement for smallholder farmers in Africa and help achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) by 2030. The World Food Program is proud to partner with the Milken Institute in this endeavor.”

In April 2023, the judges will award a $1 million Grand Prize, with additional prize money distributed among Second and Third Place winners, a prize for the Most Creative Use of Fourth Industrial Revolution Technologies and a People’s Choice Prize.