An Agritech competition in Ethiopia that aimed to identify innovative tech ideas with the potential to address the challenges of smallholder farmers has come to an end announcing three winners.
The 2022 AYuTe Ethiopia Challenge awarded Meskerem Yemaneh, Yishak Amdeselassie, Samuel Getachew, and Yosef Lakew, as their pitches stood out in the competition that lasted for around 20 days.
Looking for ideas that could improve the production, productivity, income, access to finance, or resilience of farmers in Ethiopia, the competition made its call for application at the end of May 2022.
Open to all young Ethiopians between the ages of 18-29, a total of 535 applications were submitted during the eight days of the application window. The final event saw the top-5 Finalists compete in a pitch competition held at Elilly International Hotel on 13 June 2022, Addis Ababa.
27-year-old Meskerem, who holds a BSc in Automotive Engineering from Bahirdar University, became the 2022 AYuTe Ethiopia Challenge Champion and received the $10,000 cash prize.
The second place went to Yishak, who received the $6,500 cash prize for his idea for an Application for graphical and interactive agricultural information. Yishak is 25 years old BSc holder in Information Technology from Wello University and BA holder in Management from Unity University.
Samuel and Yosef, 22 and 21, received the $3,500 cash prize as the 3rd Place Champion. The 3rd year students at Addis Ababa Science and Technology University won the prize for their pitch for a digital platform for pre and post-harvest scientific consultation.
AYuTe Ethiopia is the national edition of AYuTe Africa Challenge and is an initiative of Heifer International, a development organization working to end hunger and poverty worldwide. AYuTe envisions to combine the power of African youth with the possibilities of emerging technologies to support smallholder farmers across Africa to grow their businesses and incomes.
Beginning in 2021, this year’s annual national competitions were held in Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, and Uganda. AYuTe awards up to $1.5 million through these regional competitions each year.
“Heifer will not stop by awarding prizes, but we are going to invest in winners and supporting them to build sustainable businesses,” Adesuwa Ifedi, Senior Vice President of Africa Programs at Heifer Internatnatiol.
Agriculture is the biggest sector in Ethiopia, accounting for over a third of gross domestic product (27.5 billion dollars) and up to 80pc of all export revenues in some years. With a projected growth of 6.2% per year over the next ten years, the sector employs two-thirds of the labor force (70pc)
However, according to Nigusu Tilahun, State Minister at the Ministry of Labor and Skill, rural unemployment is growing at an alarming speed, and agriculture has been unable to create the required number of jobs due to various factors.
“Entrepreneurs can make a difference in the sector through uncovering technologies that can improve agriculture withstand climate change impacts, by engaging in production and distribution of inputs like fertilizers, small machinery, improved seeds, and chemicals, ” said Nigusu.
“Entrepreneurs can play a significant role in revising the stigma on agriculture and repositioning agriculture as a desirable career,” he added.