Ghanaian agritech startup Okuafo Foundation wins $600k Zayed Sustainability Prize

Ghanaian agritech startup Okuafo Foundation has been awarded $600 000 after it won the food category in the Zayed Sustainability Prize 2020.

Inspired by the first president of the UAE, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the annual $3-million prize is the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) leading sustainability award for recognising innovative solutions that are making an impact.

The awards ceremony for the prize — which is open to small to medium-sized companies, non-profit organisations and high schools — was held on Monday (13 January) in Abu Dhabi.

Agbogba-based Okuafo Foundation received the award in the food category in for the development of a smartphone application that uses artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and data analytics to determine and diagnose diseases in crops at an early stage without an internet connection.

Zayed Sustainability Prize said in a statement yesterday (14 January) that the app has helped 30 000 farmers in Ghana, Nigeria, Togo and Burkina Faso reduce their crop losses and improve their harvest by 50%, thereby increasing profits and disposable income.

The Okuafo Foundation was launched in 2018 by co-founders Tina Appiah and Mustapha Diyaol Haqq (pictured above, right with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan).

Zayed Sustainability Prize director Lamya Fawwaz, commenting in the same statement, said the initiative was impressed by the high calibre and quality of projects submitted for this year’s edition.

“Innovations in the agricultural sector will be key to tackling the issue of food productivity and security and Okuafo Foundation’s approach is not only an impactful solution benefiting many farmers today, it is clearly an inspiration and model for other like-minded organisations and within the communities they serve,” added Fawwaz.

Haqq said the startup is extremely honoured and humbled to be the winners of the Zayed Sustainability Prize.

“This award comes at a time when it is most needed. We live in times where families are working extremely hard but gain close to nothing as output. Smallholder farmers are living in extreme poverty and hunger and, despite working all year round to produce food, they get very little returns from their input.

The winning prize fund will enable us to empower farmers, across Africa, with sustainable AI-powered solutions that will revolutionise the way they farm, store, and process their yields,” he added.

For this year’s edition, 2300 submissions were received from 129 countries. These were then whittled down to a shortlist of 76 from which 30 finalists were selected.