rock found Back in May, I wrote about Rockefeller Foundation’s Innovation Challenge 2012 – a call for ideas in three key areas (Farming, Irrigation and Decoding Data). The panel of judges selected fifteen finalists (of which eight were invited to make grant applications) from a wide global pool of applicants. This was announced four months ago but, as I’ve previously confessed, some blogs end up with a longer gestation period. Without any further ado, here’s that list of 15 finalists. I’m particularly excited with the potential of #4 and #5 for India.

  1. [FARMING] FarmQuest (from Mobibo Coulibaly in Mali) is a reality radio program series that features six to eight young individuals and their quest to create the “best new farm.” Each contestant will take a small plot of land and over the course of a 9-12 month period turn it into a thriving farming business with help from a variety of farming experts.
  • Why is this innovative? Employs popular communication mediums that appeal particularly to young audiences in an effort to remove the agricultural stigma.
  1. [FARMING] Empowering Youth with Agricultural Information through Radioand other ICTs (from Joseph Macharia in Kenya) promotes informed decision-making on agriculture and development through radio and digital communications technology. The youth who listen to and respond to the programming with input and questions will receive hands on extension services and feedback on questions through SMS platforms.
  • Why is this innovative? Combines traditional media (radio) with new media (SMS), creating dynamic platforms for learning and service delivery.
  1. [FARMING] Youth Agro Entrepreneurs (from Fatima Oyiza Ademoh in Nigeria) is an academic program where individuals, aged 18 and over, come to learn sustainable farming practices through real-life experiences and garner entrepreneurial skills. The proceeds will be shared by the school and its students, with 80 percent allocated to the student’s savings account and the remaining percentage contributing toward their maintenance funds.
  • Why is this innovative? Provides a market-oriented approach to agricultural education, allowing young farmers to build necessary agricultural and business skills while also allowing them to make a profit.
  1. [IRRIGATING EFFICIENCY] Layering Raised Bed and Furrowing Technology (from John Duxbury in USA): Layering of technologies around the use of raised bed and furrow irrigation in order to replace flood irrigation of flat fields to improve water and fertilizer use efficiency, addresses labor shortages and provides agribusiness opportunities. Early use of the technology in Bangladesh reduced water irrigation by 25% to 45%.
  • Why is this innovative? Brings together multiple technologies and agricultural techniques into a single system to decrease water-use, increase crop yield, improve fertilizer efficiency, and expand job opportunities
  1. [IRRIGATING EFFICIENCY] Resonating, Viscoelastic Drip Emitters For Low-Pressure, Low-Cost Drip Irrigation (by Amos Winter in USA): Novel drip emitter that will reduce the cost of 1-acre drip irrigation systems by 90 percent and will put them in reach of small-scale, subsistence farmers who live off the electrical grid. Technology uses small non-electric balloon-like emitters that control the rate of flow in drip irrigation systems and drastically lower system cost by decreasing pumping pressure and power.
  • Why is this innovative? Provides efficient drip irrigation at one-tenth the cost, conserves water and is affordable and accessible to millions of subsistence farmers
  1. [DECODING DATA] Kolkata Medical Emergency System (from Rita Bhattacharjee in India): Centralized Medical Emergency System in Kolkata that will help manage availability of emergency healthcare facilities and products. Goal is to monitor, manage and make publicly known the availability of beds in the Critical Care Unit (CCU) by specialty (NICU, CICU), as well as blood products in blood banks.
  • Why is this Innovative? Coordinates multiple systems (hospital data, blood bank bar codes, news media, SMS) into a single synchronized user-friendly system to deliver critical and life- saving information to the public.
  1. [DECODING DATA] WATSAN Portal: a portal for improving water and sanitation in slums (from Chelina Odbert in Kenya) helps communities identify and link to municipal water infrastructure sites to formalize and upgrade water and sanitation projects. The WATSAN portal will offer details of the formal connections available, specific recommendations for a potential project site, and direct contact information to formalize and upgrade informal water infrastructure systems.
  • Why is this Innovative? Pairs official government water and sanitation data with data generated by slum dwellers using their cell phones to meet the needs of informal communities more effectively.
  1. [DECODING DATA] Transparencia Hacker – Open Legislative Data (from Pedro Markun in Brazil) is a data platform that will allow Sao Paulo residents to get official/soon-to-be official information regarding their neighborhoods and topics of interest as it happens, empowering people to exert influence during key political moments. Platform will contain information on the complete legislative process related to more than 31,000 bills and local regulations that have passed through City Council since it was created and will also include petition widget-generator that people can customize and use on their blogs or Facebook pages to raise public awareness about changes on bills and laws. Product will also contain a tool to contact Councilors, with the possibility of filtering their profiles by political party, geographical activity and voting patterns.
  • Why is this Innovative? Civic engagement program allows voters not only to be a part of the political process in real-time but also enables them to collectively draft proposed changes to pending legislation and proposed regulations.

Link to the full list of 15 finalists [PDF].