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TomorrowNow.org Wins $100K Inspire Prize To Co-Build Locust Early Warning Tool With And For Smallholder Farmers
November 3, 20206 min read

TomorrowNow.org Wins $100K Inspire Prize To Co-Build Locust Early Warning Tool With And For Smallholder Farmers

Take a look at our winning pitch and website to find out more about TomorrowNow.org’s 360 degree early warning tool and approach. 

Exciting news! TomorrowNow.org is proud to announce that we are a winner of this year’s Inspire Prize!  

As CGIAR’s signature digital innovation vehicle, the intent of the Inspire Prize award is to support groundbreaking, big data projects that improve the lives of smallholder farmers, and is backed by global development organizations including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, UKAID and USAID. Tomorrow.io’s winning project will use Inspire funds to enable their work on fighting the desert locust with weather intelligence and farmer-first partnership. 

If it was not for COVID19, the locust crisis would be the most significant challenge facing our planet this decade.  Swarms in Africa reached sizes larger than NYC this year and, travelling at over 150km a day, they eat any vegetation that crosses their path.  Many emergency control measures have been taken but without timely village-level warnings, the response has remained primarily reactive rather than proactive. Millions are now at risk of famine and $8.5B of damage predicted. Eggs have been laid, and are now hatching, and, due to weather conditions that promote swarm formation, a likely resurgence is predicted. 

www.tomorrow.io’s solution aims to enable this much needed shift from reactive locust response to proactive action, and to provide farmers and frontline responders with practical and actionable early warnings. The tool can be leveraged to monitor and create custom alerts for any pest, disease and weather-related event.

For TomorrowNow.org, partnership is critical for bringing game changing innovation and lasting impact to emerging markets. This award will enable TomorrowNow.org to engage multi-stakeholder partners and demonstrate together the opportunity for a 360-degree desert locust monitoring and early warning tool for use by farmers at risk of the desert locust, and the public and private sector aiding the response. With Tomorrow.io  as our technology partner, we will build on the strong foundations of their weather intelligence engine and decision making tool to incorporate advanced locust models and insights that will enable rapid, timely and actionable early warnings. With our farmer-first partners including ICARDA, Kenarava and Digital Green, we will take a human centered design approach to ensure the voice of the farmer is at the heart of the product and guides every step of the design process.   

Take a look at our winning pitch to find out more about Tomorrow.io’s 360 degree early warning tool and approach. 

What is the Inspire Prize? 

The Inspire Prize provides awards to demonstrate the power of big data analytics for farmers and the agricultural supply chain through inspiring and innovative projects. It is designed to leverage the global footprint and deep food security subject matter expertise of CGIAR with expert industry partners to link digital technologies to impact in developing economies. Global agriculture is increasingly driven by data. Advances in computing power, data storage, and data communications over the last 30 years have given rise to powerful tools for helping make farming and food systems more precise, profitable, and adaptive. Newer digital innovations — including machine learning, the expansion of connected sensor technologies, and robotics — promise more dramatic changes in the farming landscape in the near future.

This year, seven out of 122 entries were selected for awards, with solutions ranging from AI-driven agricultural extension to the first-ever global data platform on rangelands. Together with TomorrowNow.org’s winning cohort members, we will use big data approaches to solve agricultural development challenges across the globe focusing, in particular this year, on crisis response. 

Since its launch in 2017, the Inspire Challenge has so far awarded 28 grants to 21 projects, a combined total of USD3.225 million. CGIAR is committed to scale and sustainability, with winning projects eligible for additional scale up funds. 

CGIAR, who hosts the Inspire Prize each year, is a global research partnership for a food-secure future dedicated to reducing poverty, enhancing food and nutrition security and improving natural resources. The Inspire Challenge is CGIAR’s signature digital innovation process. It leverages the global footprint and deep food security subject matter expertise of CGIAR with expert industry partners to link digital technologies to impact in developing economies. 

The winners were announced at the Inspire Challenge award ceremony that closed the virtual 2020 CGIAR Convention on Big Data in Agriculture, 19-23 October. The convention brought together more than 2,600 researchers, industry experts, donors and investors, agripreneurs, and youth from around the globe to engage on topics around food security in times of crisis, inclusive digital transformation, and agile digital technologies.

In light of this year’s food system shocks due to the recent pandemic, the 2020 Inspire Challenge evaluation included specific COVID-19 response, recovery, and resilience metrics added to the judging rubric. Applications were received under four categories: Sustaining Farm Income, Measuring and Building Resilience, Sensing and Renewing Ecosystems, and Revealing Food Systems, with the latter two being co-designed with funders to specifically address pandemic-related challenges.

More rigorous gender components were incorporated into the 2020 Inspire Challenge application; every proposal was asked about the potential direct and indirect gender implications of their project and the strategies that would be employed to manage those dynamics.