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Online competition sought best ideas to help engage youth in rural Africa
WASHINGTON– Africa Rural Connect, an online project of the National Peace Corps Association, announced today the winners of its 2012 Young Farmers Idea Contest. The online competition, which ran through the end of May, was designed to find new ways to engage young farmers in agricultural development in rural Africa.
“What this contest showed is in many ways Africa is ahead of the United States on mobile computing,” said Molly Mattessich, manager of online initiatives for the National Peace Corps Association who manages with the Africa Rural Connect online project. “This online competition sought out new ideas on how to engage Africa’s new generation who are the future of development and are the most wired technologically.”
The grand prize went to Backpack Farm, which proposed continuing development of a mobile app to help smallholder farmers in Kenya manage crops and irrigation, maintain a crop calendar, and learn about farming and business. The group will receive $5,000, roughly half its estimated cost for creating a Smartphone app. This app would expand on Backpack Farm’s work promoting agricultural education through SMS messaging and onto Smartphone’s, which are becoming more prevalent in Africa.
The second prize went to the One Hen Campaign, a micro-lending campaign to give one hen and one cage to women and youth in rural Africa. In exchange, recipients will return two young hens after six months. The program is designed to help get farmers started and on their way toward owning a goat or a cow. The One Hen Campaign received $2,500.
Third prize went to the Green Living Planet, which proposed a “keyhole garden” program to create a sustainable school lunch program for Tanzanian students. The group received $1,000.
“All three of our winners showed creativity and thoughtfulness in solving the problems of rural African farmers by engaging youth while using a small amount of seed money to create sustainable solutions,” added Mattessich. “We look forward to seeing the results, but we’ve already achieved part of our goal just by getting more people to think about these issues in a concrete way.”
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