One of the main worries bedeviling Africa is food insecurity. Taking into account this state of affairs, one would imagine that any available food would be utilised wisely and economically in a bid to tame the biting hunger. Surprisingly, food wastage is yet another challenge the continent faces. This is a dicey situation that calls for urgent action.

Thankfully, new innovations are coming up to help redress this concern. For instance, a Nairobi-based tech start-up has come up with a solution known as Mavuno Link towards to cut food that go to waste across agriculture value chain.

The innovation has been created by a team of developers in Nairobi with the aim of reducing the 5.2million tonnes of food lost yearly in the country, according to United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP).

The platform connects farmers, drivers and buyers on a common platform and aims to lessen the amount of food lost after harvest by saving time on the logistics and giving farmers direct access to traders.  

After registration, the farmer is able to upload their produce on the system. The buyer or customer then selects the product needed and the quantity plus the date when the products ought to be delivered.

This information is shared with the driver who, in addition to scheduling the pick-up and delivery, verifies the checklist for fulfilled orders.  

The work Mavuno Link is doing is already catching the eye of the world.   It was recently declared the 2021 Middle East and Africa Regional Winner of Call for Code Global Challenge organised by IBM and David Clark Cause.

The start-up was awarded a total of Sh5.6 million which will go towards future development and deployment of the application. They will also receive support from IBM’s technical experts. 

 Mavuno Link’s Sammy Oina said one of the biggest challenges towards achieving zero hunger is that food is lost after harvest.

According to the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations, the global volume of food wastage is estimated at 1.6 billion tonnes of “primary product equivalents.”

“This is about 37 percent of the total food supply. Total food wastage for the edible part of this amounts to 1.3 billion tonnes,” he said.

He said the solution addresses the challenge by directly connecting farmers to distributors like drivers and buyers or consumers, thus providing a digital marketplace for the exchange of farm produce, hence reducing waste.

“Participating in Call for Code has provided us at Qualis Labs with an opportunity to engage our community by building a solution that will make the community better as well as contribute towards achieving zero hunger globally,” he added.

The application has a farmer interface, a driver interface and a consumer interface.

In addition to the application, Mavuno Link also has USSD and SMS platforms enabling users with no access to the internet to connect on the digital marketplace.

It also allows the final consumer to provide feedback on the quality of the produce, which farmers can use to ensure they are meeting user needs. 

 Mavuno Link has now joined Call for Code’s ecosystem, which unites the world’s millions of developers and data scientists to unleash the power of emerging technologies to solve pressing global problems with sustainable and scalable open source-powered technologies. 

“At IBM, we do our best to apply data, knowledge, computing power, and insights to solve difficult problems. The regional winners, Mavuno Link, have embodied the Call for Code Challenge to have developers ambitiously tackle the pressing issues we are currently facing during this pandemic using the power of AI, cloud, blockchain and IoT,” said Caroline Mukiira, IBM country general manager, East Africa.  

For the 2021 Call for Code challenge, developers, innovators and problem solvers across the globe were invited to combat climate change with open source-powered technology. 

“I look forward seeing this application deployed across the region and would encourage other developers in Kenya and across the region, to submit their solutions to the next challenge as we aim to work together to solve some of the world’s most pressing issues,” Ms Mukiira added.

The three themes proposed this year among the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals were: Drinking water and sanitation; World hunger; Responsible production and consumption.  

In addition to the winning team, the Call for Code Global Challenge had regional finalists from other African countries such as Botswana tackling the issue of providing safe drinking water.

Now in its fourth year, Call for Code has generated more than 20,000 solutions built using a combination of  open source-powered software such as Red Hat OpenShift, IBM Cloud, IBM Watson, and IBM Blockchain, as well as data from IBM’s The Weather Company and developer resources and APIs from partners like Esri and Twilio. 

A total of 14 Call for Code projects have been open sourced in collaboration with The Linux Foundation. 

Since its launch in 2018, the movement has grown to more than 500,000 developers and problem solvers across 180 nations, reflecting the reality that challenges like climate change and Covid-19 demand solutions that work on the local level, but also have the ability to scale and help any community, anywhere.