Thursday, 23 July 2009


14th July. The Microsoft Imagine Cup, an international student technology competition, now in its seventh year, aims to identify and reward those operating at the forefront of technological innovation, namely students. This year’s finals were held in Cairo in Egypt and drew more than 300000 entrants from more than 120 countries, with the top 444 students descending on the city to compete in the final round.

Team Uganda devised a two-tiered system for farmers called E-Farmer; a mobile auction system that allows farmers to trade produce before making a costly and time-consuming trip to the market as well as allowing them to seek advice on weather patterns and other agricultural issues. The second makes use of high-end imaging software to analyse diseased crops and make suggestions as to how best to combat blight, especially for the widely cultivated cassava plant, currently afflicted by disease.
e-Farmer provides access to relevant agricultural information, prevailing market prices, online produce auctioning, weather forecasts and expert advice via SMS messaging on virtually any mobile phone.

The 2009 Imagine Cup is the second time around for development++ and their e-Farmer application. According to Joseph, last year the team had inadequate time to prepare, but this year they collected extensive user research, a required component for this year’s Unlimited Potential Design for Development Award. Joseph and his colleagues interviewed farmers, conducted focus groups, observed farming practices and, in some cases, helped around farms.
“What stood out was how much the rural farmers were being ripped off,” says Joseph. “They have no knowledge whatsoever of the prevailing market prices out there, so when the middlemen go deep into the villages, they buy the produce at ridiculous prices. And the farmers are really helpless because they don’t have storage facilities, and they can’t keep the crops around once they are harvested because they will go bad.”
The Times 14/07/09 Students win at mind games
MicroSoft Press 09/06/2009 Imagine Cup Teams Face Off in Contest of Creativity and Technological Prowess