Islamabad, April 12, 2021. In collaboration with Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, Ignite National Technology Fund and Ministry of IT & Telecom (MoITT) had launched an Agrisurge Innovation Challenge to jointly work for the acceleration of development of Pakistan’s agriculture sector using technology. Subsequent to signing of the framework collaboration agreement between Ministry of IT and the Food and Agriculture Organization, Agrisurge Innovation Challenge was launched in June 2020. The winners of the challenge were announced at a joint event held in Islamabad today. The event was attended by Mr. Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui, Federal Secretary IT & Telecom, CEO and officials from Ignite, MoITT, the UN agencies, development partners and winning teams of the challenge.

Under the Agrisurge Innovation Challenge, FAO in collaboration with Ignite called for innovative solutions that can boost agriculture in Pakistan, and can increase the resilience of food systems and help with the transformation of small farmers through 4th Industrial Wave (4IW) technologies. Around 738 participants applied for the challenge and the selected teams submitted their working prototypes for evaluation. The projects were evaluated by independent judges appointed by Ignite and FAO including local and international domain experts. Smart Ecosystem for Bees ‘Silver Bees’ won the first cash prize for its solution to digitalize the ecosystem for beekeeping and honey farming, whereas Smart Poultry Farming ‘SmartFarms’ secured the 2nd cash prize for their IoT sensors-based solution to collect data using Arduino/Raspberry Pi. The 3rd cash prize was won by FarmMach Share ‘CyberVision’ for providing a comprehensive digital solution to help farmers to fully exploit the potential of existing farm machinery by making them available as a shared resource. A special cash prize was won by Humaray Khayt ‘Tech 3PO’ for developing an application which provides separate interfaces for each type of crop and operates with pictorials in Urdu.

Speaking on the occasion, Federal Secretary IT, Mr. Shoaib Ahmad Siddiqui, said that this innovation challenge was launched with a view to strengthen our agriculture sector which has a great importance in the economic development of Pakistan. Looking at the innovative solutions and the passion with which participants from all across Pakistan competed, it is evident that our tech-savvy youth is ready to address the challenges and problems faced by agriculture sector through technological interventions. He said, “I’m happy that the women led team clinched the 1st prize rather than settling for the special prize we earlier kept for any such team.”

Ms Rebekah Bell, FAO Representative in Pakistan stated that the AgriSurge innovation challenge will serve as an important step towards achieving food security and improving lives of the most vulnerable across Pakistan at a time when livelihoods are severely disrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. FAO Pakistan is helping the country ensure systematic improvement in Agriculture by introducing innovation and shifting the “Business as Usual Models” to more innovative approaches. Data-driven global agriculture and digital innovations — artificial intelligence promise progressive changes in the farming landscape. FAO is confident that digital technologies used to generate innovative responses in the agriculture sector, referred to as e-Agriculture will revolutionize the agriculture sector of the country.

Mr. Asim Shahryar Husain, CEO Ignite, stated that “the overwhelming response to Ignite and FAO’s call for innovative solutions in the field of agriculture reflects the significance of the sensitivities of food security in the country. We will continue to explore new solutions besides strengthening the partnership with the winners of this challenge. I hope this competition will ignite the farming community and will be a founding step in solving agriculture-related problems using technology.”