• USAID Announces Winners of the Feed the Future Fall Armyworm Tech Prize

    FFAR and partners award $450,000 to top digital solutions to combat an invasive agricultural pest in Africa Photo Credit: DIA CAPE TOWN (Nov. 14, 2018) – The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Land O’Lakes International Development, and the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) announced the six winners of the Feed the Future Fall Armyworm Tech Prize at the AfricaCom conference in South Africa today. The prize, launched in March 2018, sought digital innovations that could help farmers manage the recent spread of fall armyworm -- a damaging pest that attacks over 80 different plant species. Fall armyworm has the potential to cause an estimated $2-6 billion (USD) in maize losses alone over three years. Following a competitive co-creation, an evaluation process and the field-testing of prototypes, USAID and its partners awarded prizes worth $450,000 to six organizations with digital solutions that will provide information to smallholder farmers, and those who support them, to identify, treat and track the incidence of fall armyworm. USAID and its partners awarded A grand prize of $150,000 to ink, a Nairobi-based start-up that has integrated a Fall Armyworm Virtual Advisor into its Africa Farmers Club mobile service. This online group and chatbot already provides more than 150,000 farmers across Africa with farming information. The new virtual advisory feature will provide specific information on how to identify and treat fall armyworm. $75,000 each to Akorion, a Ugandan agricultural technology company, for an enhanced fall armyworm diagnostic in its EzyAgric app; and to AfriFARM, an app by Project Concern International and Dimagi, a social enterprise based in Massachusetts. $50,000 each to Farmerline and Henson Geodata Technologies, both Ghana-based, and the Nigerian-based eHealth Africa, to further develop early-stage mobile applications that will provide tailored information for combatting fall armyworm. “These projects have the potential to combat a voracious agricultural pest, which will help smallholder farmers produce enough food to feed their families and communities,” said Sally Rockey, executive director of FFAR. “The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research is excited to be part of this Fall Armyworm Tech Prize and congratulates today’s winners on their innovate solutions.” The prize received 228 entries from organizations around the world, 80 percent of which were based in Africa. A diverse panel of global experts working in agriculture, technology entrepreneurship, and impact investment judged the entries and made final selections. The winning entries are working with smallholder farmers in Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda, Ghana, and Nigeria, with the potential to scale solutions to other countries. The prize is part of the U.S. Government’s Feed the Future initiative, a global effort led by USAID to address the root causes of hunger and poverty in developing countries. About The Winners Grand prize of $150,000 to the most viable solution Team name: Farm.ink, Solution name: Fall Armyworm Virtual Advisor The Fall Armyworm Virtual Advisor is an interactive solution that provides knowledge on how to identify, scout and treat fall armyworm to its users. The tool is integrated into Farm.ink’s award-winning mobile service, Africa Farmers Club, an online group and chatbot that enables more than 150,000 farmers across Africa to find information about farming. Through the Facebook Messenger platform, the solution gamifies learning and after completing trainings, allows farmers to access the FAW Scouter, a progressive web app that guides farmers through the scouting process. It then provides farmers with personalized recommendations for how to treat fall armyworm on their farms. Two runner-up awards of $75,000 to the most promising solutions Team name: Akorion, Solution name: EzyAgric, Country of Operation: Uganda The EzyArmyWorm (EAW), an enhancement of the pest and disease diagnostic in the EzyAgric app, aims to assist farmers, extension workers, and agribusinesses in Uganda with early detection and accurate diagnosis of FAW. It uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to allow farmers to easily detect the pest across possible affected crops at any stage of the production cycle. With SMS and smart alert notifications, EAW provides farmers with constant reminders and real-time information on how to detect, manage, and address fall armyworm. Team name: Project Concern International and Dimagi, Solution name: AfriFARM (Africa Fall Armyworm Response Mechanism), Countries of Operation: Malawi and Tanzania Built on CommCare, an existing digital platform designed for low-resource settings, AfriFARM provides accessible and actionable information about FAW to smallholders, lead farmers, and agricultural extension agents in Africa. The app provides learning modules tailored to user needs and capabilities on topics including management; identification; scouting; treatment options and safety considerations; and incidence reporting. Three frontier innovation awards of $50,000 to early-stage solutions Team name: Farmerline, Solution name: Crop Disease Prediction & Advisory Services, Country of Operation: Ghana Crop Disease Prediction & Advisory Services (CdPAS) by Farmerline is a digital solution that allows end-users to access information on fall armyworm, engage experts on the pest, make incidence reports, and request inputs/services. CdPAS will leverage the audio-visual learning capabilities of local farmers by providing the simplified information via two channels: 1) An Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system, which allows users to access content in their preferred local language and on any mobile phone; and 2) an android application that has media-rich content (photos, videos, infographics) on the pest. Team name: Henson Geodata Technologies, Solution name: Igeza, Country of Operation: Ghana Igeza is a cloud-based mobile application that enables early detection and instant interaction with a control center. Igeza integrates location and audio-visual services used by the smallholder maize farmer to scout, scan and identify fall armyworm as well as map their farms. The call center connects all notifications to a pool of experts including entomologists, plant pathologists, agronomists, and extension workers who can analyze the evidence presented and recommend appropriate management responses, where needed. Team name: eHealth Africa, Solution name: CornBot, Country of Operation: Nigeria CornBot is an audio-visual mobile application that interacts with farmers in their local language, talking them through a process that helps them identify, control, and manage fall armyworm. It uses an image-based Q&A mechanism to engage farmers and empower them with information needed to combat fall armyworm. CornBot also aggregates data on the prevalence of fall armyworm, providing stakeholders with real-time data necessary for formulating evidence-based policies and intervention on the pest. About The Partners Feed the Future: Feed the Future, America’s global hunger and food security initiative, aims to transform lives toward a world where people no longer face extreme poverty, undernutrition and hunger. To achieve this, Feed the Future works hand-in-hand with partner countries to develop their agriculture sectors and break the cycle of poverty and hunger. Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research: The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization established by bipartisan congressional support in the 2014 Farm Bill, builds unique partnerships to support innovative and actionable science addressing today’s food and agriculture challenges.  FFAR leverages public and private resources to increase the scientific and technological research, innovation, and partnerships critical to enhancing sustainable production of nutritious food for a growing global population. The FFAR Board of Directors is chaired by Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum, Ph.D., and includes ex officio representation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and National Science Foundation. Land O’Lakes International Development: Land O'Lakes International Development is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that leverages the farm-to-fork expertise of Land O'Lakes, Inc. to unlock the potential of agriculture to empower the developing world. Since 1981, Land O'Lakes International Development has implemented over 300 dairy, livestock and crops development programs in nearly 80 countries.  


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  • Meet One of The Fall Armyworm Tech Prize Partners

    Fall armyworm is a damaging pest that attacks over 80 different plant species. Agriculture experts estimate this pest could cause between $2.4 and $6.2 billion in losses for maize, a staple crop in Africa. Crops like sorghum, rice and sugarcane are also at risk. Unchecked, fall armyworm is a threat to the livelihoods of farmers as well as food security across Africa. Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative, along with the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) and Land O’Lakes International Development, launched the Fall Armyworm Tech Prize. The prize offers to fund up to $450,000 in digital solutions that aim to help stop the spread of fall armyworm in Africa. Check out this video to learn more about FFAR and fall armyworm:    


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  • FFAR Prize Seeks to Revolutionize Egg Production, Improving Animal Welfare and Saving Billions

    MAUI (Oct. 17, 2018) – The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) today previewed the Egg-Tech Prize at the United Egg Producers’ (UEP) Annual Board Meeting and Executive Conference. FFAR plans to offer up to $6 million in prizes for developing technologies that can accurately and quickly determine the sex of layer chick eggs before they hatch. Skilled workers in the egg industry are only able to identify the sex of the chick after it hatches. For the 6 billion laying hens hatched each year worldwide, a similar number of male chicks are produced that never make it to market. The male chicks, once hatched, are unsuitable for consumption due to poor growth performance and meat quality. As there is no need currently for the male chicks, they are culled, creating major challenges for animal welfare, food waste, farm profitability and energy usage. This practice, known as male chick culling requires the industry to devote significant time and resources to incubating the male eggs only to cull them later. “Male chick culling is a challenge that must be solved. However, promising scientific advancements indicate that it’s possible to develop a scalable technology to determine an egg’s sex before it hatches,” said Sally Rockey, FFAR’s executive director. “Solving this challenge would not only improve animal welfare, but also save egg producers billions while adding eggs to the food supply.” “UEP and our farmer-members commend FFAR for coordinating this valuable incentive to encourage researchers to move swiftly to identify meaningful, scalable solutions to this issue,” said Chad Gregory, UEP president and CEO. “Assuring the health and well-being of animals simply is the right thing to do. As such, we have an obligation to support practices and technologies that improve animal welfare across egg production, and this extends to finding an economically feasible, commercially viable alternative to the practice of male chick culling at hatcheries.” Current approaches to solving this challenge range from gene-editing to measuring an egg’s hormone levels to determine its sex. FFAR is confident that the industry can build on recent advancements in sensor technologies, engineering and biological sciences to develop a technology that both successfully determines an egg’s sex before it hatches and can be integrated into existing production systems. If new technologies allow egg producers to determine the chick’s sex early in incubation, over 6 billion male eggs could be directed into the food supply or vaccine production. Furthermore, if an appropriate technology is developed, the industry stands to save between $1.5 -$2.5 billion each year. FFAR plans to begin accepting Egg-Tech Prize applications in early 2019.


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  • Announcing The Egg-Tech Prize

    New Technologies for In Ovo Sex Determination - A FFAR Initiative Program Summary: In early 2019, the Foundation for Food and Agriculture (FFAR) will launch the Egg-Tech Prize - a $6 million initiative that seeks to revolutionize global egg production. The goal of the prize is to stimulate development of new technologies for accurate, high-speed and early-stage in ovo sex determination of layer chicks. Initial grants will be followed by a final stage that culminates in proof of a working prototype that meets the criteria determined by an expert Steering Committee. What is the Challenge? Several billion layer chicks are hatched each year to supply the world’s eggs, with demand expected to rise in coming years. Male chicks are culled on the day of hatch, as poor growth performance and meat quality makes them unsuitable for consumption. Unnecessary incubation causes the loss of millions of male chicks each year and is a major challenge to animal welfare, food waste, farm profitably and energy consumption. The Search for Solutions: Approaches to solving this challenge have ranged from gene-editing to measurement of egg hormone levels. Use of new technologies to determine the chick's sex early in incubation would allow male eggs to be directed into the food supply or vaccine production. Recent advancements in sensor technologies, engineering and the biological sciences have poised the industry for a breakthrough that could be rapidly integrated into existing production systems. Partnership: The Egg-Tech Prize will foster competition and build momentum to support scientific breakthroughs, from concept to prototype development, to provide practical solutions for the egg industry. PRIZE PROCESS Phase 1: Grants for concept development. Phase 2: Proof-of-concept and prototype demonstration. PRIZE TIMELINE October 2018: Program announced. Early 2019: Phase 1 - Ideation and Concept Development. Late 2019-2022: Phase 2 - Proof-of-Concept / Prototype Demonstration. JOIN FFAR Learn more about the Egg-Tech Prize: Tim Kurt, Scientific Program Director tkurt@foundationfar.org 202.836.9960 FFAR welcomes discussions on this 'moonshot' and how this work can impact your organization. DOWNLOAD PDF


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  • FFAR Awards Grant to Reduce Methane Emissions from Dairy Cattle

    Scientists Add Seaweed to Cattle Diets to Combat Methane “Burps” WASHINGTON, (Oct. 9, 2018) – The Foundation for Food and Agriculture…


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  • FFAR Awards Emergency Funds to Develop Tool to Mitigate Bird Flu

    University of Minnesota Researchers to Create Easy to Use, Nationwide System to Improve Disease Prevention and Preparedness   The Foundation for Food…


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  • FFAR Awards Four Grants totaling $1.5 Million to Enhance Economic Opportunity for Clam, Halibut, Scallop, Yellowtail and Sea Cucumber Producers in the United States

    Research Teams led by Coastal Enterprises, Inc., McDowell Group, Oregon State University and University of Washington Aim to Create Jobs, Improve Markets and Expand Nutritious Food Production [caption…


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  • FFAR Supports African Food Security Prize Launched to Stop Devastating Crop Pest

    Feed the Future seeks digital solutions to help stop the spread of Fall Armyworm across Africa Feed the Future, supported by Land O’Lakes International Development and the Foundation for Food…


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  • FMI Foundation Launches Protocol to Inform Emerging Issues in the Food, Agricultural & Consumer Goods Sectors, FFAR Co-Funds First Pilot Project

    The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) Foundation today launched a new approach to address emerging issues in the food, agricultural and consumer goods sectors. FMI Foundation established the cross-industry communications effort, the Unified Voice Protocol, with the goal of proactively creating an environment of trust and consumer confidence in purchase decisions. FMI partnered with the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) and the Animal Agriculture Alliance to develop and fund the first pilot project, which considered sustainability-related poultry production practices with a focus on cage-free eggs and slow-growth broilers. “It is important to understand the drivers for consumers’ decisions in the marketplace,” said Leslie Sarasin, president of the FMI Foundation and president and CEO of the Food Marketing Institute. “This pilot project is a positive first step in helping ensure the food and agricultural industry is responding to actual consumer preferences and furthers FMI’s role and responsibility to serve as the voice of the food retail industry.” Dr. Jayson Lusk, Ph.D., food and agricultural economist at Purdue University, conducted the research for the pilot project and examined consumer beliefs, knowledge, and willingness-to-pay for specific attributes, such as cage-free eggs and slow-growth broilers. Dr. Lusk’s research team surveyed more than 3,000 respondents who were asked to make a series of choices among products that vary in price, production practices, labeling claims, product color and appearance. “The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research is committed to supporting farmers and businesses across the value chain in making data-driven food production decisions that meet the needs of both producers and consumers,” said Sally Rockey, Ph.D., executive director of FFAR. “We are pleased to join the FMI Foundation and the Animal Agriculture Alliance in sharing the results of this study on consumer beliefs and purchasing decisions related to cage-free eggs and slow-growth broiler chickens.” "This research is a key component in the effort to bridge the communication gap between farm and fork," said Kay Johnson Smith, Alliance president and CEO. "Understanding consumer-purchasing values can help food companies and the agriculture industry connect with customers and start meaningful conversations about animal welfare and sustainability." Going forward, FMI will seek input from top leaders of the food, agricultural, and advocacy industries on identifying other emerging issues and potential Unified Voice topics of interest. The FMI Foundation will consider these suggestions among the project’s future case studies to ensure the food and agricultural industries are making informed decisions regarding research, production and retail sales. Egg Survey Results Executive Summary Full Report Broiler Chicken Survey Results Executive Summary Full Report  


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  • FFAR and National Pork Board Collaborate to Launch Swine Health Research Program

    Up to $2 Million Available through Competitive Call for Applications    The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, a nonprofit established with bipartisan…


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