Archive for Agriculture

Aditya Argawalla: Innovation In India

Aditya Agarwalla- Co-Founder of Kisan Network

Kisan Marketplace is an online marketplace connected to farmers in India through a mobile phone app. The farmers use the app to sell their crops to buyers. This system generally makes things cheaper for both the farmers and the buyers, because it cuts out the middlemen and geography which limits them in India.

This business is unique due to the new rise of cheap smartphones in India. Until recently, smartphones were not commonly available to people in India. But with this recent rise, has come a great opportunity to use technology to help the farmers more efficiently deliver their crops to sellers. Aditya Agarwalla 22, dropped out of Princeton University to start this business with his father, a farmer in India. They have a simple app, which farmers download onto their smartphones, and it connects them with a vast marketplace of buyers, with Kisan Network acting as the middleman connecting the two.

Aditya Agarwalla saw a need to sell crops more efficiently for farmers. He tapped into the technology, which at that point was a relatively unexploited field. As the first innovators in this market, the Kisan Network’s success has been remarkable. They have moved over one million pounds of crops in under one year.

ReelFruit by Affiong Williams

If you’re looking for some great stories of innovation and successful start-ups, I would suggest looking for them in Africa. Recently, entrepreneurs in African nations have been realizing their potential at an astounding rate. A fantastic example of this is Affiong Williams and her company ReelFruit.

Williams, who was one of Forbes Africa’s 30 under 30 in 2015, founded her fruit processing company in Nigeria in 2012. The company sells dried fruit and nut snacks, but the impact is much larger. Williams has said that she founded the company because she saw a gap in the market and that “there is untapped opportunity in processing and value addition of raw materials.” She has also said, “I also believe it’s a very budding sector, there is a lot of opportunity as well as the job creation which I think is quite important to me as an entrepreneur to be able to play in an industry that would create a lot of jobs.”

Clearly, Williams is passionate about developing the agribusiness sector of the Nigerian economy as well as the the rural farmers themselves. This info-graphic can be found on their website:reelfruit-infographic

The company’s current product line includes dried mango, pineapple, cashew, banana and coconut snacks. As an ambitious individual, Williams is working on raising capital to open a new, larger factory to produce and package more product as well as expand the product line.

Williams has said, “I hope to be on the cover of FORBES AFRICA in five years’ time.” This company is going places. Look for ReelFruit to expand and to have an incredible impact on the agribusiness economy of Nigeria and beyond.

Gardens for Health International

First of all, I cannot even express how happy this organization makes me. Like, I can’t even.

Now that we’ve established my excitement, I can tell you about the actual organization. Julie Carney co-founded Gardens for Health in 2007 with her friend Emma Clippinger. The original idea was to work with people with HIV/AIDS in Rwanda to help them grow their own food for consumption and sale. However, after two years of living and working toward this goal in Rwanda, Julie realized that they were working on the wrong problem. Malnutrition was the bigger issue in Rwanda. So Gardens for Health developed accordingly. This is a fantastic example of reframing the problem and pivoting in your idea to address the problem more effectively and be more successful in your entrepreneurial endeavors.

Now Gardens for Health fights malnutrition in Rwanda by “partnering with local health centers to integrate agricultural support and comprehensive health education into the clinical treatment of malnutrition.” They work to include agriculture training for local families in the usual assistance provided by public health centers.

“Our agriculture team works to blend international innovations in sustainable agriculture with time-tested Rwandan farming practices in order to help every family with whom we work to make the most of their existing resources.

Through our work, we are changing the way that malnutrition is treated by moving away from short-term handouts and towards equipping families with the knowledge and resources to grow their own nutritious food and improve their health. We envision a future in which the key to lasting food and nutrient security for vulnerable families lies in their own backyards.”

Again, I LOVE the mission of this organization!!! This is innovation the world needs! Find out more about Gardens for Health at their website.

 

New Seed for Guatemala

Curt Bowen grew up on a small organic farm in Idaho, so he knows a thing or two about agriculture and social engagement. His first service experience in Central America was building a house for a widowed family in Nicaragua as a teenager. During this trip he realized that it was impossible to help everyone in the same way, and that the root causes of poverty need to be examined rather than simply attempting to alleviate its symptoms.

So in 2006 he started his first project in Latin America with the goal of educating locals on biodiesel technology. While he was able to open three research and training centers, Curt didn’t think he was making a big enough impact. Knowing that the majority of the world’s poor are farmers, Curt decided to use his agricultural  background to help the people of Guatemala.

Once he got to Guatemala, Curt and his partner Trinidad Recinos, who he had met during his biodiesel project, drove through the entire country to plant and harvest alongside local farmers in order to fully understand the problems and issues facing Guatemalan farmers. Then in 2010 Curt and Trinidad co-founded Semilla Nueva (New Seed) with the mission: “to develop locally-led farmer education programs that increase the income, rebuild the soils, and improve the food security of Guatemala’s rural poor.”

Semilla Nueva now develops and implements agricultural solutions through experimentation and collaboration with Guatemalan farmers. The organization’s research looks for ways to produce more food, generate more income, decrease agriculture’s negative effects, and increase nutrition for poor farmers.
A great example of the progress Semilla Nueva has made is pigeonpea. “Pigeonpea is a drought resistant bean bred to grow simultaneously with corn and other crops. It cuts fertilizer costs by fixing organic nitrogen, decreases soil compaction, provides high protein and nutrient rich food, and is open-pollinated, allowing farmers to save their own seed.” Simply giving farmers access to this seed can increase the health of the farmers’ soil, provide more nutritious food, and increase farmers’ incomes.

Although I found out about Semilla Nueva only recently, I love what this organization is doing. They are using sustainable agriculture  and advances in agricultural technologies to lift the poor out of poverty and help them thrive. Semilla Nueva is one of only a handful of organizations focused on agricultural development. They are one-of-a-kind, and I love it!

 

Farmerline

Alloysius Attah, saw a problem with the way that farmers operated in rural Ghana. There was a lot of wasted potential due to poor communication and knowledge. Alloysius took that opportunity to help them. He is the co-founder and CEO of Farmerline, a service that sends messages to the phones of rural farmers in Ghana. These messages send information about weather and market prices; they even used the system to send out warnings during the Ebola outbreak! Alloysius used his entrepreneurial skills to change the world for the better. He inspires me because he didn’t do something revolutionary by inviting a new product—all he did was use a system we already have to make the world a little better. I love knowing that helping people doesn’t always mean that you have to invent something totally new, rather it may only require a little change. Checkout Farmerline’s website to read more about the awesome work they do http://farmerline.co/about/

Gifting Africa

Eighteen year old Alain Nteff was alarmed by the high death rate of newborn babies and pregnant women in his community. When he was  20, he developed a mobile app called “Gifted Mom” to help solve this problem. The app helps teenage mothers and health workers calculate due dates. It also collects and sends information to women in the community. His app has more than 500 downloads and is integrated with locally made phones. It has 1,200 pregnant women and mothers as beneficiaries and has led to a 20% increase in antenatal attendance rate for pregnant women in 15 rural communities. Nteff is also working with 200 medical students to reduce brain drain in Cameroon. He plans to reach 50,000 pregnant women and mothers by end of 2015 and 5 million across the continent by 2017.

Sadly, over 7000 women still die per year in Cameroon from pregnancy related complications which can be prevented by a simple educative SMS. The company  notify subscribe women by SMS on when they should do their ANCs and tell them why. Subscription to their SMS solution is free and be done on the companies homepage. The company has the inspiring campaign and goals to use low cost technologies to fight ignorance and Maternal and Newborn Health issues. They organize monthly outreach sensitization projects, one village at a time to help Africa for the better.

Aqau… whats? Lets Just Call them Grove Labs

People who live in apartments or even in the artic don’t have the ability to grow their own foods. Well Jamie Byron and Gabe Blanchet saw this as a problem that didn’t have a direct solution. The idea started during their senior year at MIT when Jamie had built an indoor aquaponic garden. Jamie and Gabe used this to grow their own greens, fruits, herbs, etc.

Jamie and Gabe

Jamie and Gabe

They set off for the challenge of making these indoor aquaponic gardens, which would be named Grove Labs, attractive enough that it would be home décor with a purpose. The Grove Labs aren’t just a way for people to grow gardens in their homes, it promotes healthy living and helps the earth! Way to go Jamie Byron and Gabe Blanchet!

If you are wondering if that is a fish tank at the bottom... it is!!!

If you are wondering if that is a fish tank at the bottom… it is!!!

Biochar

    • Jason Aramburu

    • Age, 27
    • Founder
    Aramburu’s re:char uses biochar to help farmers in East Africa fight climate change and grow more food. Biochar is made from crop and animal waste; for a $60 investment, a farmer saves $200 annually, boosts crop yield 26%, and reduced chemical fertilizer consumption by 80%.
  • What is Biochar

Biochar Is a Valuable Soil Amendment

chartreeBiochar is a solid material obtained from the carbonisation of biomass. Biochar may be added to soils with the intention to improve soil functions and to reduce emissions from biomass that would otherwise naturally degrade to greenhouse gases. Biochar also has appreciable carbon sequestration value. These properties are measurable and verifiable in a characterisation scheme, or in a carbon emission offset protocol.

This 2,000 year-old practice converts agricultural waste into a soil enhancer that can hold carbon, boost food security, and increase soil biodiversity, and discourage deforestation. The process creates a fine-grained, highly porous charcoal that helps soils retain nutrients and water.

Biochar is found in soils around the world as a result of vegetation fires and historic soil management practices. Intensive study of biochar-rich dark earths in the Amazon (terra preta), has led to a wider appreciation of biochar’s unique properties as a soil enhancer.

Biochar can be an important tool to increase food security and cropland diversity in areas with severely depleted soils, scarce organic resources, and inadequate water and chemical fertilizer supplies.

Biochar also improves water quality and quantity by increasing soil retention of nutrients and agrochemicals for plant and crop utilization. More nutrients stay in the soil instead of leaching into groundwater and causing pollution.

Biochar is a Powerfully Simple Tool to Combat Climate Change

The carbon in biochar resists degradation and can hold carbon in soils for hundreds to thousands of years. Biochar is produced through pyrolysis or gasification — processes that heat biomass in the absence (or under reduction) of oxygen.

In addition to creating a soil enhancer, sustainable biochar practices can produce oil and gas byproducts that can be used as fuel, providing clean, renewable energy. When the biochar is buried in the ground as a soil enhancer, the system can become “carbon negative.”

Biochar and bioenergy co-production can help combat global climate change by displacing fossil fuel use and by sequestering carbon in stable soil carbon pools. It may also reduce emissions of nitrous oxide.

We can use this simple, yet powerful, technology to store 2.2 gigatons of carbon annually by 2050. It’s one of the few technologies that is relatively inexpensive, widely applicable, and quickly scalable. We really can’t afford not to pursue it.

– Jason is a unique entrepreneur working to fight many malfactors like hunger, poverty, famine and malnutrition through his enhanced soil for farmers. He is a great inspiration and a fantastic Millennial Entrepreneur.

More For Less: Re:Char

Re:CHAR’s ulitmate vision is to develop, produce, and distribute a whole line of carbon-negative products that help limit CO2 outputs, and helps to feed the world’s hungry. RE:Char is being used as far away as Kenya and as close to home as right here in the United States. Jason attended and graduated from Princeton University with degrees in both Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and from the gfarmerset go he believed global poverty and climate change were the two biggest problems faced by the world. Biocher is the product that he came up with, and has essentially killed two birds with one stone.

 

“Our vision is to use our knowledge — which combines the best of both ancient process and modern technology — to achieve a systems win: more food, more sequestered carbon and less waste. This is as important in the developing world as in the developed world. We are dedicated to both.”

 

– Jason Aramburu

The problem is this, people across the world farm to make a living but recently are feeling the challenges of climate change, food insecurity, and soil degradation. Jason Aramburu, is founder of Re:CHAR, a company that their waste into biochar. Biochar is a

bio

carbon-negative soil amendment that can improve crop tallies by 200%. Not only does Biochar improve crop yields but it also offsets CO2 emissions by 12% yearly. This has the double bonus of providing more food for farmers that need it to increase their income, and fight global climate change.

 

“We have improved the lives and yields of subsistence farmers in Kenya and organic growers in the US through biochar products.”

– Jason Aramburu,