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Informational Only

This challenge is no longer accepting new submissions.

Data-Driven Farming Prize

We're looking for tools and approaches that share insights from data with farmers so they can improve their productivity.

U.S. Agency for International Development

Total Cash Prizes Offered: $50,000
Type of Challenge: Technology demonstration and hardware
Partner Agencies | Non-federal: CIMMYT, ICIMOD, GODAN, Microsoft Innovation Center
Submission Start: 02/09/2017 12:00 AM ET
Submission End: 04/06/2017 11:59 PM ET

This challenge is externally hosted.

You can view the challenge details here:


The Problem There is a growing global concern about the challenges agricultural and food production need to overcome in the next few decades. By 2050, the world’s population is expected to reach 9 billion–with over a billion at risk of hunger–and arable land is becoming increasingly scarce.  Additionally, developing countries suffer the most from a lack of food security and low household incomes. For these reasons, one of the priorities sainder the Sustainable Development Goals is to achieve food security and improve livelihoods by raising smallholder farmers’ productivity. Digital technologies have upended business models and expanded the frontiers of information access in the developing world. Increasingly available digital technologies including sensors, geospatial imagery, mobile financial services, and data analytics can be leveraged to make agriculture more precise, productive, resilient, and profitable. However, too often that data and analysis remains in research intuitions and on computer servers rather than reaching farmers or those who work with them. Prize Statement The prize is seeking tools and approaches that source, analyze and translate data into actionable, timely and context-specific information for smallholder farmers to improve value from agricultural productivity. In particular the data driven solutions will be tested in Nepal, and should be able to meet one or more of the following outcomes:
  • Produce timely and context specific insight for improving the production of rice, other cereals and vegetables in Nepal.
  • Support a more sustainable use of Nepal’s natural resources (i.e. increase biodiversity, use water more sustainably, improve use of land).
  • Enable the market by providing inputs, extension services, and connections which support farmers in a sustainable way in Nepal.
  • Improve influence and application of agricultural products in Nepal (i.e. better use of fertilizer, generation of quality seeds).
  • Generate timely and actionable information to manage Nepal’s agricultural productivity risks due to  weather emergency.


Data-Driven Farming Most Viable Solution(s)
Cash Prize Amount: $50000
2 winners will receive awards of $100,000 for the most viable solutions. 2 additional awards of $50,000 will be made for the solutions which demonstrate significant potential.


Eligibility Criteria Below criteria sets out who can enter the Prize and what ideas will be accepted
  • Open to all – We are open to solutions from individuals, groups, organizations and companies globally, and all sources and sectors, particularly local innovators from South Asia.
  • Local applicability – though the call is global and solvers can come from all over the world, the solutions will be tested and applied to Nepal.
  • Willingness to share learning– All entrants need to demonstrate a willingness to share their experiences and learning to help establish a body of knowledge that can bring about a sustained change in the use of data to improve agriculture productivity.
  • Prototyping Skills – Applicants need to ensure they have the capacity to develop a prototype of the solution over the challenge time frame. Some support will be provided to help achieve this, but Applicants must be able to develop and test prototypes during the course of the prize, if selected.
  • Intellectual Property – Any  intellectual property in the submission must belong to the Applicant. Applicants will retain the intellectual property rights to their entry to the Prize.  Such Intellectual Property must be clearly marked as proprietary.  It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that they are not infringing on the Intellectual Property of others.
  • Incomplete Entries – Entries will not be assessed if all required fields  have not been completed.  This applies to any stage of submission for the Prize and also relates to missing documentation that may have been requested.
  • Applications in English  – Entries need to be submitted in English by the relevant deadline and will be assessed against the judging criteria.
  • USAID Responsibility Determination – USAID will conduct a responsibility determination prior to award, to ensure that award to the organization meets applicable U.S. laws, including regulations administered by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Department of Treasury. For more information, see OFAC website:, including the list of Specially Designated Nationals.

Judging Criteria

Criterion 1: DATA-DRIVEN
The submission should present a new, adapted or aggregated data-driven solution, able to add value to context specific agricultural productivity issues in Nepal. In particular: The extent to which data is incorporated into the product / service. How effectively the solution translates data into accessible and actionable insights for farmers. Solutions that demonstrate a new or adaptive ways of improving productivity or introducing a completely new approach.

The applicant should demonstrate a real understanding of the situation that their solution is helping to address. Impact will be measured according to the degree to which the solutions can provide actionable insights for on the ground farming decisions to be made in Nepal. In particular, Clear articulation and understanding of the specific need at farm level (e.g., area of productivity) that is being addressed. Whether there is a good understanding of the likely impact that the solution will have on smallholder farmers, including gender and cultural dynamics. For instance, by providing a logical reason, or set of reasons, for why it is likely to have impact, and why that would be an improvement on the current situation. The extent to which applicants have developed a working prototype of the solution by May 2017 to gather feedback from smallholder farmers and extension services on its utility and perceived impact for representative categories of intended adopters/users. The extent to which a diverse range of smallholder farmers (men, women, ethnic minorities etc) and extension or advisory services perceive the applicant’s solution (by experiencing a prototype) likely to have a positive impact on on the ground farming decisions which support improved agricultural productivity.

Criterion 3: USABILITY
The solutions should demonstrate that they meet end-user needs and are sufficiently flexible to be used by smallholder farmers and community actors in Nepal, with different languages, levels of education, and digital literacy. In particular, Ease of use of the solution/information. Direct feedback from testing with diverse farmers and any other end users about whether they can utilize the data to make timely, action-oriented decisions on their farms. How accessible the solution is likely to be, including by underserved populations (e.g. women/girls, people with disabilities, and other socially relevant groups such as low income, marginalized ethnicities, landless or land-poor households, and lower-caste groups), through the applicant’s account of business planning and distribution models.

The solution is accessible and affordable to a broad range of people. Applicants should consider who would buy this solution, obstacles that may inhibit acquisition, tactics to mitigate any barriers, and and how much will it cost them to buy it and maintain its use. In particular, Value for money to the farmer or other end users. Consideration for materials used to produce. Appreciation of the cost to market and comparison to cost of existing solutions.

The solutions shall be sustainable, with respect to both financial and environmental considerations. They should demonstrate financial and environmental sustainability and Applicants should consider the commercial and growth potential of the solutions. In particular, How well the solution has been developed in relation to a particular market and how well that market is understood. For instance, an understanding of how it fits with solutions that are already out there. The extent to which teams can show the potential and/or specific opportunity for growth and the development of a sustainable business model that allows for ongoing product updates and maintenance will also be considered. How the solution minimizes environmental impact and ensures the sustainable use of natural resources.

Applicants will consider the context and needs for privacy of personally identifiable information when designing solutions and mitigate accordingly. In particular, Adherence to any data protection laws of Nepal and the host country of the Applicant. Please Note: visit to source further resources and information that will support better understanding of Privacy and Security considerations.