The “Hack4DigitalVillagesʼʼ regional innovation challenge was held this weekend from November 24 to 26 at the Fergana branch of the Tashkent University of Information Technologies. The event was organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO UN), in collaboration with the Project Coordinator of the OSCE in Uzbekistan and with the support of IT Park and the CGIAR Accelerate for Impact Platform.
The innovation challenge was open to participants from all regions of the country. Applications were submitted by 244 people, from which 103 selected people formed 36 teams. Each team worked on its own project in the following areas:
Out of 36 teams, 16 made it to the final presentation on Demo Day, demonstrating the contestantsʼ exceptional preparedness and expertise.
According to the juryʼs evaluations, the winners of the hackathon were 5 teams:
The winners were awarded Asus TUF Gaming laptops, iPad Pro tablets, Samsung Galaxy S23 smartphones, HyperX Cloud headphones, and Huawei Band smartwatches. Additionally, from IT Park, the winners will receive mentorship support, individual training sessions tailored to the needs of each team, free access to office spaces at IT Park, computers, and 3D printers for a period of six months. The primary objective of this support is to assist the winners in realizing their ideas into actual businesses, providing an opportunity to expand and strengthen the foundational knowledge underlying their work.
On November 22, a webinar was conducted for the hackathon participants by experts from FAO and IT Park. Participants were introduced to information about the hackathon and received preliminary data on farmersʼ issues. A significant benefit was the opportunity for participants to directly interact with farmers and mentors. During the first and second days of the hackathon, farmers were present on-site, providing feedback on the proposed ideas and guiding participants towards the development of more efficient and practical solutions. In the future, participants will be invited to the incubation program by the OSCE and the acceleration program by CGIAR. Further details on these initiatives will be announced later.
The following specialists were invited as mentors to provide consulting support:
For the competent evaluation of each project, the following experts were invited as judges for the hackathon:
• Sherzod Suyarkulov (FAOUZ) – National Expert on Capacity Development and Agricultural Innovation (AKIS)
• Katerina Antanevich – Digital Agriculture Expert at the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO)
• Abdikhamid Urazkeldiev – Consultant IWMI;
• Abror Mamataliev – GIS Developer, Software Engineer
• Abdufotikhhoja Ravshankhojaev – Backend Developer
To recap, FAOʻs Digital Villages Initiative (DVI) in Uzbekistan aims to improve agricultural productivity, enhance farmersʼ access to digital services, and to uplift rural livelihoods in the Fergana Valley. DVI was launched in Uzbekistan in 2023 to shepherd the communities of Novkent and Yuksalish into a digitally driven future. This initiative is shaped by a participatory approach aimed at empowering rural people, especially youth, to co-identify and develop solutions to the challenges rural communities face.
The DVI project in Uzbekistan encompasses several key elements, including the assembly of open-source IoT devices for greenhouses. Additionally, the project involves the pilot implementation of these devices among smallholders under the Digital Villages Camp. Furthermore, the initiative involves the integration of digital literacy and entrepreneurship training programs in target communities and the establishment of a Digital Villages Hub — a digital platform for knowledge exchange among communities and a digital repository of agricultural know-how on Telegram and YouTube.
Discover more about the Digital Villages Initiative here:
Read more about how the Digital Villages Initiative has already made an impact with smart sensors and living labs in Novkent and Yuksalish: