Data Driven Farming Prize

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.

Entries open
9 February 2017
Deadline for entries
6 April 2017
Co-creation Event
May 2017
Award Event
September 2017

Scroll down for more information about the prize



Meet the finalists

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 under 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.

About the Prize

Feed the Future believes in helping farmers extract maximum value from local agricultural production by increasing their access to the data and information they need to make more effective farming decisions. Democratizing access to data and information can drive the transformation of commercially-driven agriculture in targeted regions. As a result,  the prize aims to support solutions for farmers and value chain actors to make effective choices to enhance their productivity, on-the-ground decision-making, and market planning. Data-driven agriculture is not a new concept, yet the potential of these techniques and approaches has not yet come to fruition in less developed economies. For this reason, the competition will create the opportunity to source potentially relevant innovations from anywhere in the world and link them to a local context with specific opportunities and challenges. Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world. Agriculture contributes 34% of the national GDP and 70% of the population works in the sector. The country is ranked 25th in biodiversity, Nepal has the potential to be a food surplus country if smart, sustainable intensification that includes smallholder farmers can be realized.

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.

Participant Journey

Milestone 1:  Call for applications Data Driven Farming Prize is now closed for applications. The Prize was open for entries from 9th February 2017. The entry period was open for 8 weeks and finished on the 6th of April, 23.59 EST. For more information about the entry process see the Innovators Handbook as well as Eligibility Criteria and Terms & Conditions. Please note that entrants are required to be able to create a prototype of their solution before the Co-Creation Event in May 2017,  if they are selected as finalists. We recommend entrants to read FAQs before entering the Prize.    Milestone 2: Co-Creation Event After the deadline, all entries were assessed against the Judging Criteria and 13 finalists have been selected. Each team will receive $2,500 to support testing and development of their prototype. All finalists will be invited to participate in the Co-creation Event with end-users in Nepal at the end of May 2017. At the event, the finalists will have an opportunity to co-design their solution with local end-users and collect valuable feedback to plan further development of their products. Travel costs related to attending the Co-creation Event will be covered by the Prize, see more details here.


Meet the finalists

  Milestone 3: Testing and Development Plan  After the co-Creation event, finalists will have eight weeks to test their solutions, refine their prototypes and write their Development Plans. During this period mentoring support will be provided. Deadline for the Development Plan submission will be in the last week of July 2017.  In August 2017, based on the Development Plans and the results from testing, the judging panel will select 2 winners who will receive awards of $100,000 for the most viable solutions and 2 additional awards of $50,000 will be made for the solutions which demonstrate significant potential.   Milestone 4: Award and Showcase Event The Award and Showcase Event will be held in Nepal in September 2017 (date to be confirmed). At the event, all finalists will have an opportunity to showcase their solutions to the public and network with the attendees invited to the event. Lastly, the winners of the Prize will be announced and awarded.

Eligibility Criteria: Who can enter?

The Prize will accept entries that meet following criteria (see the Eligibility Criteria page for more details):

  • Open to all.
  • Local applicability. 
  • Willingness to share the ideas. 
  • Prototyping Skills.
  • Intellectual Property. 
  • Incomplete Entries.
  • USAID Responsibility Determination.

Judging Criteria:  What the judges will be looking for?

All entries will be judged against following criteria (see the Judging Criteria page for guidance)

  • Criteria 1. Data-Driven.
  • Criteria 2 Potential Impact.
  • Criteria 3 Usability.
  • Criteria 4 Affordability.
  • Criteria 5 Growth potential.
  • Criteria 6 Privacy & Security.


Who’s behind the Prize?

You can find all partners here.

Feed the Future is America’s initiative to combat global hunger and poverty. It brings partners together to help some of the world’s poorest countries harness the power of agriculture and entrepreneurship to jumpstart their economies and create new opportunities.  

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Nesta Challenges exists to design and run challenge prizes that help solve pressing problems that lack solutions. We shine a spotlight where it matters and incentivise people to solve these issues. We are independent supporters of change to help communities thrive and inspire the best placed, most diverse groups of people around the world to take action. We support the boldest and bravest ideas to become real, and seed long term change to advance society and build a better future for everyone. We are part of the innovation foundation, Nesta.

Get in touch!

See the Challenge Prize Terms and Conditions and FAQs. For further updates, contact us at or follow us on Twitter and join the conversation using the hashtag #DDFarming.

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