By Helena Idiovo
On the 30th of November by 11:00am, the FUOYE Hult Prize sub-regional competition commenced on the Zoom platform. The competition aimed at selecting a team to represent the Federal University Oye-Ekiti at the regional Hult Prize competition.
It began with an opening prayer. The FUOYE Hult Prize Director, Seyi Babalola, who hosted the event, expressed how excited he was about the competition. According to him, a lot of efforts had gone into making the event a success.
Mr. Babalola gave a brief introduction of the judges and listed the competing teams. They were the Life Sustainers team, the Saturn V team, the Renaissance team and the Trail Blazers team. Others included the Farm On The Go team and the Quench team.
According to the competition directions, the teams were to provide feasible and sustainable solutions to food wastage, transportation problems and the problems associated with low cost of production. The judges had the absolute power to decide the winner of the competition.
The Life Sustainers team proffered solutions to eliminate middle men from the food production chain as well as reduce the food wastage that comes with storage, transportation and unhealthy handling of food items by these middle men. To achieve this, the team proposed to get food directly from certified farmers to consumers on a periodic basis, that is, bi-monthly or monthly.
They also noted that they would use Artificial Intelligence to predict the market supply and demand in order to avoid wastage.
The Saturn V team presented a plan to create urban farms as well as drastically reduce the cost of transporting farm produce to markets. The plan included growing farms in the cities in order to eliminate the need to transport farm produce to markets and also avoid the spoilage of perishable goods.
The Renaissance team’s solution was an agri-technology farm that uses machines to gauge the amount of food consumers need as well as supply food to them via drones. There would be data to gauge the exact amount of food consumed so as to avoid wastage.
The Trail Blazers team called their solution the Grocery Voucher. Their plan was to buy organic waste from people who eat vegetables and pay consumers with grocery vouchers. These vouchers can be exchanged for organic food at a store they plan to own; the Azure Grocery Store.
At about 12pm, there was a break in the competition. During the break, Chibunna Ogbonna, the keynote speaker of the event, spoke about his life as an entrepreneur and further advised the competitors to “be patient” and also “learn everyday single day to test new arena.” He continued by saying the competitors needed to “have the mindset of learning, exchange thoughts and ideas”. He concluded by saying they need to learn to enjoy the journey.
The competition resumed as the Akakutzi team gave its solutions as “Big Data and E-commerce Website for Food Distribution”. The big data is where farmers’ data input will be registered. The website would serve as a bridge between the customers and the farmers. They plan to also take the burden off the farmers by providing transportation services to bring farm produce to consumers.
Due to absence, the Quench team was disqualified. The Farm On The Go team proffered their solution to be creating an alternative e-commerce site and providing free learning skills. They explained how they plan to use organic manure as an alternative for chemical fertilizers. The free learning skills will empower youths and expose active farmers to more sustainable ways to good productions.
The Food Upcycling team proffered a solution and called it “Food Bank App”. It is a computer application to reduce hunger. They plan to sell goods near the expiration date to consumers who need these goods at cheap rates so as to reduce the food wastage. They also plan to teach people how to make home-made fertilizer.
The FUOYE Hult Prize competition ended with closing remarks from Mr. Babalola who extended his vote of thanks to the judges, participants and competitors, sponsors and supportive firms.
After the two hour long competition, a team emerged the winner. With their pitch about providing grocery vouchers and opening the Azure Grocery Store, the Trail Blazers team won the competition. As the winning team, they will represent Hult Prize FUOYE in the regional competition.
The team members, led by Emmanuel Ogundare, were very happy. Mr. Ogundare, speaking on behalf of the team said “we feel extremely elated that our hard-work for over a month didn’t go unnoticed, even though we were almost sidelined from participating due to an oversight from the Hult prize campus committee”.
Speaking about the strategies in place to succeed in the regional competition, he said “we have duly notified our mentors about the latest development, and we are already making moves to developing a prototype of the winning idea. We do sincerely hope to massively receive the support of the FUOYE Hult Prize campus committee and the university management as regards that.”
In conclusion, Mr. Ogundare said “our winning is not going to be a function of a single factor. It is a synergy between the favour of God, our effort, the commitment of our mentors, and the much needed support of the university management and well meaning people.”