Innovation in Agribusiness, Sudan

How we´ve promoted Startups and the Public Sector to develop AI satellite mapping and interactive voice technology to boost agricultural productivity

The Challange

The agricultural sector (next to livestock farming) constitutes the main source of income for the majority of the Sudanese population. Growth in the agricultural sector has however, predominantly resulted from expanding the cultivated area. Given that natural resources are limited, Sudan faces the urgent challenge of increasing yield productivity to boost its agricultural production.

“The program certainly enabled us to increase our knowledge and skills for working with Startups. It’s the first time in Sudan that the Public Sector is creating a longtime relationship with Startups and joining the entrepreneurship world. Also, the program will be a showcase for the other Public Sector entities to encourage them to work with Startups.”

Dr. Hanan Abass, former Commissioner of the Social Security Investment Authority (SSIA), Republic of Sudan

The Outcome of Collaboration

Partnering with the Social Security Investment Authority of the Ministry of Labour and Social Development and Impact Hub Khartoum, a Collaborative Innovation process was kicked-off to source and identify innovative Startup solutions to increase the yield in cash crops and to increase productivity in the horticulture value chain. Out of thirty-three applications, eight Startups were selected to participate in the 4-moths program. The Startups and the Public Sector partner were supported in structuring and implementing their cooperation through workshops, technical mentoring and process support.

Startups were able to benefit from the technical expertise of the Social Security Investment Authority and were able to pilot and test their solutions in one of the state farms owned by the Authority. Out of the eight participating Startups, the Social Security Investment Authority selected two Startups at the end of the program to receive investment and the possibility to further receive piloting and scaling support by the Public Sector. Finally, eight StartUps pitched their solution concept to an expert panel consisting of representatives from the Public Sector institution, external experts and professionals of the Impact Hub Khartoum. Two Startups were selected to continue their cooperation with the Public Sector and scale their solutions through its support: The Startup Blue Bell build a locally rooted adaptation of an Airbus developed machine- learning software to provide satellite mapping and geoinformation services to increase the yield in cash crops by determining the adequate inputs to grow crops (e.g. fertilizers or pesticides). The second selected Startup Ivorycell uses interactive-voice response technology and the prevalent communication channels used by farmers to disperse practical advise and recommendations by the Agricultural Research Centers in Sudan to increase their agricultural output. The Social Security Investment Authority is not only invested to form a continuous partnership with Ivorycell, but also to encourage a collaboration of the Startup with the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research.

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