Microsoft to help startups in software to predict crop pests

Bugslayers Group
The Bugslayers Group (Clara Nashipai, Sylvia Achach, Rosianah Musyoka and Bethany Jepchumba) winners of Microsoft’s Leap Hackathon. PHOTO | COURTESY 

Global IT giant Microsoft will facilitate commercialisation of a female-led Kenyan startup whose software solution helps farmers predict eruption of crop pests and diseases.

Speaking at the close of a 16 week LEAP Engineering Acceleration Program, Microsoft 4Afrika regional director Amrote Abdella said The BugSlayers founded by Ms Clara Nashipai, Ms Sylvia Achach, Ms Rosianah Musyoka and Ms Bethany Jepchumba will be placed in an internship programme where the software will be fine-tuned before its launch into the market.

“We are thrilled at the outcome of this year’s LEAP hackathon! As we continue to work to upskill and educate women across the continent – the endless opportunities and unprecedented innovations this brings is something we are excited to be a part of,” said Ms Abdella.

The Bugslayers’ AgRight web application uses Microsoft AI (Azure Custom Vision) for pest and disease prediction thereby providing farmers with practical solutions for better farm husbandry.The app can also predict harvest time, connect farmers to buyers and monitor farm activities.

32 female IT enthusiasts participated in the hackathon aimed at increasing gender diversity within the Microsoft tech-space.


Attendees aka’ hackers are provided with real world experiences through development and project management apprenticeships and combines traditional classroom learning with hands-on projects.

Ms Abdella said lack of digitally enabled agripreneurs, inputs and quality data adversely affected farming leading to poor harvests.

“Microsoft endeavors to close the gap that exists in this sector by training ‘women hackers’ from non-traditional ICT backgrounds in the LEAP Hackathon programme who competed for the top spot in the hackathon,” she said.

Seven startups that stood out in the competition are Sheroes, a web-based solution using AI to determine premiums and cover for farmers, Mtazao which connects farmers and buyers directly through a website/ USSD and SMS and 200OK platform(Ukko) which uses data to predict farm yields and link farmers to buyers.

Others were GONSFarm, a farmer-loan advancement platform, F-Connect which is a farmer-buyer online link and Phoenix platform which is used for helping farmers access farm inputs on credit that is repayable upon sale of farm produce via the platform.