Barbados will be represented in Suriname next week at AgriHack Talent Caribbean, a regional initiative for Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) related to Agriculture.

AgriHack Talent Caribbean is a collaborative effort among the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), and ConnectiMass.??

Its main objective is to support the developmental of ICT innovation and entrepreneurship in agriculture by young people.

Private, public sector and non-governmental-run innovation or entrepreneurship hubs (including university labs) were invited to express interest in being partners in nominating and supporting teams to attend the finals of the AgriHack Talent Caribbean competition in Suriname.

Although not currently an incubator or innovation hub or lab, Barbados??? National Council on Science and Technology (NCST) responded to the call for partnership and selected a local team to represent Barbados at the regional finals. Nine other Caribbean countries will be represented in Suriname, from Monday, October 6, to Friday, October 10.

The team selected by Barbados is Addis Alem Co-operative Society Limited. It comprises Troy Weekes, Leonard Seale and Corey Marshall, who have developed a mobile app called CropGuard.

CropGuard is an agriculture app that seeks to enhance food security by helping farmers to protect their crops through pest diagnosis, monitoring and control. According to the developers, CropGuard will provide well-sourced, well-structured information to confirm pest diagnoses and discover treatments.

The app will feature a photo-based, crowd-sharing feed that allows farmers to learn about pests. CropGuard will be free for farmers but will be monetised initially through an advertising revenue model targeting relevant companies, and in the short term, via access to research data and statistics on pest incidence through an application programming interface.

Mr. Seale is the marketing officer of an agricultural marketing co-operative. He is a former marketing and purchasing officer in the hotel industry. Mr. Marshall, a former Geographical Information System Officer, manages a landscaping and horticulture business, while maintaining five acres of farm land in the Scotland District of Barbados.

Mr. Weekes is the lead developer of CropGuard, with over twelve years of experience in software engineering. He is a board-certified professional and has successfully commercialised a range of software applications.??In the team???s preparation for the finals in Suriname, the NCST hosted a presentation of the app to a team from the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management.

Acting Director of the NCST, Charles Cyrus, noting that the meeting and presentation was extremely useful, said: ???The Ministry???s team provided invaluable inputs to the developers, serving to improve their final product.???

Pointing out that the developers used data provided by the Ministry of Agriculture in their app, he added: ???The NCST hopes to capitalise on the linkage that was established between the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries and the local developers??? community to see a focus on the growth of ICT in the local agriculture sector.

???This is especially important, given the current scarcity of resources and the need to increase productivity in the sector. Of note is the reality that ICT applications can be used to address a number of issues facing the sector.?????The trio will leave tomorrow, Saturday, October 4.

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