The OneWorldCitizens foundation promotes social entrepreneurship among youths globally, and connected me to an ambitious young entrepreneur in Barathpur, Nepal called Pradeep Sapkota. Together we’re aiming to transform his current IT center into a technology hub, where he can inspire his community to engage in high-tech projects and agriculture innovation – keeping educated peers from going abroad.
We settled on drone technology to get things started, since precision farming is a relatively low-cost, high return approach for agriculture innovation. For the pilot test we acquired a DJI Phantom 4, an easy to use, high quality camera drone. In cooperation with TGD (TU/e’s student association for Technology for Global Development) we organized a Hackathon that focused on getting the most our of this pilot, divided in 4 challenges: data analysis, business models, hardware upgrades and community intergration.
All four groups discovered great additional value, but the feasibility prize went to ‘hardware upgrades’ and a team of students who just started the brand new learning line ‘Responsible Innovation in a Global Context’ took on the challenge to build an open source NDVI sensor, which can measure crop health, and can offer the farmers almost instant feedback on their lands’ primary needs – and thus reduce manual labor, one of the biggest issues for this sector in Nepal.
I coached the students in their research and development, and since their final presentation they’ve transformed into a social enterprise – adding the software element and preparing the drone for deployment in the field.