2020 World Bank Innovation Challenge For Agriculture and Food Security Risk Financing in Southern Africa

Deadline: April 2, 2020.

The World Bank’s Agriculture Observatory with the support of Draper University is launching three innovation challenges to accelerate the world response to the growing effects of climate change in agriculture and tackle some of the most urgent needs in SADC agriculture and food security today. The future of these innovations can impact the lives of millions of people across Africa and around the world.

The agriculture sector faces increasing risks as natural disasters become more frequent and disruptive due to climate change. Climate change is expected to intensify the following agriculture risks in the South Africa Development Community (SADC):

  • Crop failures due to extreme weather events (drought, floods)
  • Animal and/or plant pests or diseases
  • Food price, agriculture, and trade flow disruptions


Challenge 1: Measuring Weather Variables

Alternative Methods for Measuring Weather Variables

Why: Weather data is essential for the development of risk finance mechanisms and other key tools to strengthen the financial resilience of farmers to climatic shocks. This includes measurements of excess rainfall and rainfall deficit, among other variables.

The Goal: To develop alternative ways to measure weather variables.

Examples: Measurement of rainfall through interruptions between cell phone signals between towers, the weather data captured by WMA approved airport towers.

Challenge 2: Animal and Plant Pests and Diseases

Predicting or Monitoring Animal and/or Plant Pests or Disease Outbreaks

Why: Pathogens are expanding in new areas never affected before, exacting significant economic cost on the livestock sector. Prevention and early warning for rapid response are essential. To better understand how cases effect global economies and food prices around the world, read this insight from Gro Intelligence.

The Goal:  To provide alternative solutions to predict or monitor high-risk conditions of vector-borne diseases for livestock.


  1. Models that use alternative data inputs, such as: social media, weather, movements of other vectors driving the spark and spread of these diseases. 
  2. Diseases relevant for SADC including vector-borne diseases with seasonal patterns (e.g. Rift Valley Fever, January Disease, etc.).

Challenge 3: Agriculture Data

Bring your Own Agriculture Data

Why: Objective, transparent, accessible, and accurate data is essential to develop high quality, affordable risk financing instruments (such as insurance) or agriculture information systems. With expansion of novel data collection techniques, non-traditional methods of data collection can leap-frog traditional methods such as yield collection and expand the scope and availability of risk financing instruments for farmers. 

The Goal: Present time series of agriculture data (yield, price, production) data for crops relevant to the SADC region in an electronic format. The proposal must explain how the agriculture data was obtained and why it is relevant.

Examples: Cooperatives, input suppliers, agribusinesses, financial institutions, and local NGOs that have collected agriculture data in the SADC region can submit their dataset.


The winners of each challenge will…

  • Present to a panel of experts from top international institutions in a Shark Tank format.
  • Exhibit their proposal work in a report on agriculture innovations by the World Bank and partners
  • Be featured in key media outlets as an innovator in the area.
  • Attend an award ceremony in Washington, D.C., (all expenses paid) and have the opportunity to interact with potential partners.


Step 1: Go to our application link here.

Step 2: Fill out the questionnaire, upload a one-minute explanatory YouTube video, write a 500-word project description, and attach a pitch deck. For the Yield Data challenge, participants must also submit a sample of their data in CSV format.



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