OpenAg in low & middle income countries


Hi everyone! I’ve recently discovered your community and very interested in watching it grow – I’m particularly excited about the new developments with the Foundation and the growing ecosystem.

So far I haven’t seen very much content or discussion about agriculture in low and middle income countries. As described in the ICT4Ag conference web site,

Over 2 billion people depend on 500 million smallholder farms for their livelihoods. Smallholder farmers produce 80% of the food consumed in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Yet smallholders and their families make up half of those who are food insecure.

Small farm sizes, limited borrowing capacity, increasingly erratic climate, counterfeit inputs, difficult enabling environments, and volatile markets combine to make it a challenge for smallholder farmers to increase their income, or even feed themselves. Maize yields in Africa average just 1 ton per hectare, and rice yields in Asia rarely surpass 4 tons per hectare.

Farmers could increase productivity and profitably to meet growing urban demand if they have access to better financial services, the knowledge and skills to adopt new practices, and incentives aligned along the value chain to support farmer, private sector, and government agricultural stakeholders.

So I’m curious if there is anyone lurking out there thinking about some of these issues, and whether or not this community would be a good place for such people to gather. Please share your thoughts either as a reply here in this topic, or send me a private message. Thanks!


hey @downey

thanks for getting this conversation started.

This is something I think about a lot, and I would be so happy if OpenAg’s work could be applicable for smallholder farmers. In my last job I did some work in Zimbabwe with very small-scale farmers and people doing small-scale mushroom production who often made about $40 per month for a family—and while they grew traditional, more nutritious crops like finger millet and red sorghum alongside commodity maize they couldn’t get profitable prices on them.

I think that the challenges facing and potential solutions that can help smallholder farmers are pretty unique and non-obvious to those used to approaching it from a macro or high-tech view. So, I think it would be great for this forum to become a place where farmers or agricultural innovators from low and middle income countries can come and discuss their challenges and needs. Do you work in that space?


Hi. I’m developing my own food computers entirely for these issues. I live in South Africa and farmers here, small and large, are struggling against drought conditions.
I have a few plans on how food computing can alleviate these problems. The main focus for smallholder farmers is giving them better seed crops. Often low income farmers grow their own seed, which causes diseases to be passed from one cycle to the next. Subsequent crop cycles also deliver smaller yields. With food computing we could grow healthier seed, cheaply.


that’s awesome! Please keep us posted about your progress and the challenges you find. Are you working in the food/ag space?


I am working on a startup in the agritech space. I am currently seeking funding, for further R&D, from local innovation hubs.
The startup is getting a lot of attention from large companies for its possible social impact, so all is good on that front.
We are aiming to develop an ecosystem of farming components for vertical and traditional farming. We expect the greatest benefits for society to come from hybrid farming, where vertical farm grown seedling are transplanted into soil.

It is a long term plan. We are planning interactions with farming co-ops after we finish our first food server(a few months from now). I will post updates.


I very interest in hearing more about this! Keep me posted.


I second that, I’d love an update on your commercial venture!

Hows the aeroponics going? Have you had a chance to check out the finished MVP?


Hello, again
My startup is being incubated in a government owned incubator, called the Innovation Hub.
I am in the process of gaining manufacturing space. where we can construct a set of beta food computers.
Progress has been slow, but we have done some work on high performance horticultural LED systems. The beta is expected to be finalized by the end of October, pictures and design files will be released afterwards.

The focus with all of this is making the components cheaper, with a focus on cooling systems, lighting and pumps. To get this done we will start with producing high end food computers for research institutions, and then we will use their feedback to scale up the systems for other applications.

I have generated a list of social aims for the business;

Improve nutrition with food research
Educate people and encourage small time farming
Reduce food waste by improving average food quality
Cheaper seed crops for farmers
Improved food security in drought areas

but the aim of the startup is to manufacture affordable indoor farming systems so I hope to partner with other organizations to achieve those aims.

@Webb.Peter I hope you’re well. The MVP looks great. Your aero setup looks good too. I’m keen to see the results of your nozzle tests.
I’ll be able to work on my aeroponics system once I’ve been allocated my manufacturing space.


Can’t wait to see the designs on the lighting. What is the target crop?

I love your list of social aims, reminds me of this recent discussion.

@drewthomas89 has our MVP aero setup, it failed on us after having the wrong type of solenoid. I’m curious if you’ve ever seen this article (figured I’d share it since we’re on this thread).

I’d be very interested in your analysis/feedback on where you think the MVP can be improved and added to. I like the idea of keeping a base model, with the idea that it can gradually be upgraded to have more capabilities. After having been someone designing these from a commercial point of view (be critical, I genuinely want to make it better).


Hi, I am Giok from Asia. Background is Farming since young…Engineering in UK…Hands-ON Japanese Manufacturing System in GE(USA) Sony, Panasonic…and Green Mark ( LEED ) for Buildings. Am Climate Reality Leader and works with JPO on Green Productivity and APEC on ISO Quality-Environmental Mgmt System

Working on sustainability digital ecoKIBBUTZ Unlimited ( decoK-U) ( aka ecoVillage Improvement Program ) to use Ag to upsize the 4B BoP Social Wellness for 5P’s Peace + Prosperity + People + Planet + Partnership

Aim to provide poor farmers an opportunity to earn USD$10 per day (USD$300pm) that interweaves community development, microLEARNing for all ages, environmental protection, and closed vertical loop higher income economic economics production at decoK-U

Need Help to kickstart a 50A deforested off grid site as 1st Proof of Value is opening up by Xmas 2017 at Desaru Johor Malaysia. 60 mins from Singapore. Have put up my house for SALE as a Commitment

A small donation say $100 would help us on our journey to STOP POVERTY on Hunger-Malnutrition-Hidden Huger-Water/Land Scarcity-WASH etc,
Good Health & Have Fun


I joined this community just now and I’m really interested in the topics. Waiting for updates eagerly


I hope listening about your story!

I live in South Korea, i have no specific experience of farmings.But in recent time i heard some story from the people. In South Korea, a lot of farmers operate small farm. So they have no any budget and scale to integrate technology their farmings(Especially, IT and automation function). Doesn’t matter this thread topics("in low&middles income countries), we can sharing problem of farmers relates their limitedness.

I have a curiosity about how to helping and reduce cost of small farms(Usually they have no budget to developing automation and plant system. In South Korea, this cost is really high expensive.)