Heifer International awards young Ugandan agritech innovators

Heifer International Uganda has awarded winners with up to shs70 million in grants along with  ongoing mentorship from a team of expert advisors to help them translate their funding into expansion and meaningful change to Uganda’s food and farming systems as part of the 2023 AYuTe Africa Challenge that supports agritech innovators.

At a function held on Wednesday in Kampala  Simon Peter Okoci, the proprietor of the Smart Kuku brooder innovation that uses an automated temperature and light regulation system in brooder was named the overall winner and received a cash prize of shs35million whereas Willy Katumwa who invented Fish Feeding Technology that automates feeding based on fish needs walked home with shs25 million as the first runner-up.

On the other side,  Samantha Ainembabazi who invented Freza Nano Technology that preserves fruits by releasing a safe organic formulation extending shelf life by 30 days won a chash prize of shs10 million as the second runner-up.

As winners of the AYuTe Africa Challenge in Uganda, the innovators received a combined total of UGX 70,000,000 in grants, along with.

“Heifer Uganda believes that the future of Africa’s agriculture hinges on creating opportunities for young innovators to transform the agricultural landscape,” said William Matovu, Country Director for Heifer Uganda.

"Our aim is to build a robust community of innovators and alumni across the country to accelerate meaningful impact for smallholder farmers.”

According to officials from Haifer International Uganda, this year’s challenge attracted 189 participants and offered an incubator program for contestants to gain deeper insight into how to scale up their businesses, ensure sustainability, and attain financial management skills among others.

Speaking at the award ceremony,  the State Minister for Agriculture, Fred Bwino Kyakulaga hailed Heifer International Uganda for the initiative that he said is adding something in terms of providing solutions meaningful change to Uganda’s food and farming systems.

“Last year’s top winners have led the way by creating jobs for a combined 25 youths and serving over 200 farmers across the country. That is a step in the right direction,” Kyakulaga said.

“Winners for this year should do the same: Let the agricultural sector stand out as a major employer for young people in Uganda, through your great innovations.”

Moses Watasa, the Commissioner for Communication and Dissemination in the Ministry of  ICT and National Guidance confirmed the importance of the AYuTe Africa Challenge’s focus of supporting and empowering young, inventive entrepreneurs who have introduced promising technology solutions to transform agriculture for smallholder farmers.

“Innovations in technology are key drivers for success of many economies. Agriculture as a backbone for Uganda calls for creative minds that come up with solutions that make it a more profitable sector. The winning solutions we honor tonight have the potential to tackle a wide range of issues affecting productivity and substantially, boost the incomes of smallholder farmers in Uganda and throughout Africa” he said.

Heifer International began working in Uganda in 1982 and to date, Heifer Uganda has supported over 6 million families across the country through agriculture and environmentally sound economic development programs.

Heifer Uganda is currently present in 19 districts of the Central, Eastern, West Nile and Northern regions.

The AYuTe Africa Challenge is an initiative by Heifer International implemented in Uganda in partnership with Famunera, EzyAgric and National Animal Genetic Resources Centre & DataBank (NAGRC&DB).

Other partners include Hive Colab and Youth Startup Academy Uganda (YSAU) that provided business incubation services and RSM East Africa that brought on board audit services to ensure quality assurance and transparency of the competition.

The challenge aims at fostering a culture of innovation by supporting and nurturing the next generation of agriculture technology leaders in Uganda.

The competition, which was launched last year, provides a platform for agricultural innovators to showcase their technologies and links them to relevant support services to make their products market ready.




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