Heifer International, a US-based nonprofit development organisation, has announced an innovation competition targetting youth-led agritech startups in Kenya, with top contestants standing a chance to win up to Sh2 million.

The AYuTe Africa Challenge (AYuTe stands for Agriculture, Youth and Technology) seeks to boost farms’ access to technology. The selected top innovators will acquire seed funding, training, coaching and networking opportunities to scale their businesses.

The selected top 24 innovators will also undergo a two-month incubation programme.

“This competition provides an opportunity for young innovators in Kenya to secure the funding and the visibility they need to scale up their agritech solutions and reach millions of farmers across Africa,” said Senior Vice President of Africa Programmes at Heifer International Adesuwa Ifedi.

Through the competition, Heifer aims to stimulate access to innovations that could boost the incomes and productivity of smallholder farmers and support innovators in growing their businesses. Online submission of applications for the contest closes on March 21.

Optimerce Consulting Limited, a business that digitises the process of procedure collection at farm-gate through mobile apps, was announced last year’s Kenya winner. Other similar national contests were held in Ethiopia, Nigeria, Senegal and Uganda.

The 2022 continental winners were ThriveAgric of Nigeria, which links field agents to smallholder farmers; Kenya’s DigiCow, a mobile phone-based app for dairy farmers providing livestock management solutions and links to veterinarians and feed supply services; and Bostwana-based Brastorne Enterprises, whose apps give farmers access to farming information, markets and short-term finance.