Thursday, 25 September 2008

Information service for rural farmers in India among the 008 Tech Awards Laureates

The Tech Awards, presented by Applied Materials (Nasdaq:AMAT), and a signature program of The Tech Museum of Innovation, announced 9th of September the 2008 Tech Awards Laureates, 25 global innovators who are applying technology to benefit humanity and spark global change. This esteemed group of Laureates was selected from hundreds of nominations representing 68 countries.

In addition to the 25 Laureates being honored, Professor Muhammad Yunus, pioneer of microcredit and founder of Grameen Bank, will receive the 2008 James C. Morgan Global Humanitarian Award, honoring individuals whose broad vision and leadership are helping to address humanitys greatest challenges.

Established in 2001, The Tech Awards recognize 25 Laureates in five universal categories: education, equality, environment, economic development and health. These Laureates have developed new technological solutions or innovative ways to use existing technologies to significantly improve the lives of people around the world. One Laureate in each category will receive a $50,000 cash prize during the annual Awards Gala on November 12.

This year, the 2008 Laureates represent the truly global vision of the program, spanning countries such as Senegal, Peru, Hungary, Canada, Namibia, Germany, Egypt, India, United Kingdom, Laos and the United States. Their work impacts people in many more countries worldwide.

Below are some of the 2008 Laureates and a brief description of the winning projects.

  • Lifelines, OneWorld South Asia: Lifelines is a telephone-based information service for rural farmers in India that uses a Cisco Unified Messaging platform incorporating Interactive Voice Response functionality, integrated with a Customer Relationship Management application and information database.
  • Solar Electric Light Fund: Washington D.C.-based Solar Electric Light Fund developed a solar power drip irrigation system to help farmers in rural Benin, West Africa, cultivate their crops. The technology eliminates the need for fossil fuels and battery use currently used in irrigation methods in developing countries.
  • Biomass Energy Project, Cheetah Conservation Fund: Namibia-based Cheetah Conservation Funds Bush Project is a biomass processing plant that uses a high-pressure extrusion process to convert invasive bush into a clean and economically viable alternative to existing products such as firewood, coal, lump charcoal and charcoal briquettes used for cooking fuel and barbecues.
  • Adaptive Multimedia Information System (AMIS), DAISY Consortium: DAISY Consortium provides open source software to read text to impaired people in 20 languages using AMIS software, which implements synthetic speech to make text and multi-media information available to people who have visual impairments, cognitive or learning disabilities such as dyslexia, and people who are unable to hold a keyboard or printed publication.

  • Key Features of the LifeLines Agriculture service:
    Expert advice on integrated pest management (IPM) methods has helped farmers to improve their input efficiency. Solutions are made available to farmers within 24 hours. Information available on more than 50 different fields of agriculture and allied activities covering a complete chain of information from production to consumption, including information on:
    • Farm inputs like seeds, fertilizers, pesticides
    • Funding schemes
    • Government schemes on loans and subsidies
    • Banking and insurance
    • Market prices
    • Region specific market information
    • Agriculture news
    • Organic farming

    The types of queries addressed till date include some of the following:

    • Insect, pest and disease management
    • Market information and commodity prices
    • New varieties of crops
    • Government schemes for crop insurance and loans
    • Watershed management and micro-irrigation
    • Seeds and fertilizers