The Rainforest Alliance invited remote-sensing, artificial intelligence, drone and Earth-observation companies to apply to the challenge in February and March. As part of Sat4Farming, a joint effort with universities and tech companies, the winners will help Ghanaian cocoa farmers triple their annual yields to 1500kg through innovation and digitization.
The Indian traceability firm CropIn will receive €100k ($115k) to enhance its ‘future-ready’ farming solution called CocoaSense. With a mission of making every farm traceable, CropIn helps farms track and monitor crops in real time, while also providing warehouse, sales and risk management software.
Ultimately, it aims to empower farmers in the quest for a more socially and economically equitable agricultural system – especially as the world population nears the 10bn mark.
“We will provide the technological know-how to co-develop a digital platform that aims to enhance the livelihoods of smallholder cocoa farmers in Ghana,” said CropIn founder and CEO Krishna Kumar. “This allows them to manage and monitor in a more accurate, affordable and scalable manner. This is a strategic partnership and allows us to enhance CropIn's visibility in the African region.”
Both solutions will be ‘very valuable’ for small farmers, said Daan de Vries, chief innovation and technology office of the Rainforest Alliance.
“We drive sustainability transformation globally across millions of hectares, with a special focus on commodity sectors that have large environmental, economic and social challenges. We increasingly do this by leveraging digital technology,” he said.
“Strong partnerships are fundamental to digital innovation. By working with the right partners, we can support stakeholders along the entire supply chain on a journey of continuous, data-driven improvement.”
Second-place 20tree.ai will receive €75k ($86k) to hone its farm-specific technology. Focusing on AI, the Dutch company builds tech-based solutions for sustainable forest management, farming and urban green spaces.
“Our drive for taking up the challenge was the opportunity to contribute to improving the sustainability of cocoa production and having a positive impact on the livelihoods of local communities together with partners such as the Rainforest Alliance,” said Anniek Schouten and Indra den Bakker, 20tree.ai’s founders.
Alongside de Vries, the jury panel consisted of a geospatial technologist at Google, Mars’ VP of cocoa sustainability, and a cartography expert from the Ghana Cocoa Board.