Seeking Innovative Ideas to Improve Data Collection in the Global Dairy Sector for Human Health and Well-Being

Deadline July 11th

Girl Buying Milk Cropped Challenge Page
Seeking ideas to improve data collection in the global dairy sector to advance human health and well-being
Dairy, especially milk, can play an important role in providing essential nutrients for maternal and child heath, however, research suggests milk and other animal-source foods provide less than 5% of total energy intake in many countries of Sub-Saharan Africa, 5% to 10% in most other African countries and southern Asia.[1]   Most dairy products in these regions are produced by small-scale, family-owned farms (also called smallholder farmers). While the milk from these farms provides an important source of essential nutrients, only limited and fragmented data is available to the milk producers, researchers and policymakers about the inputs farmers use, the breed and health of the animals, the quantity and quality of the milk produced, and the details, methods, and conditions under which the milk is consumed, transported, and sold.
Such a lack of information from dairy producers impedes researchers from collecting information on the utilization and effectiveness of diary interventions, as well as the ability to pinpoint adverse events. Additionally, without a trend-line that can be used to measure potential interventions, researchers and policymakers struggle to identify the key producers and market leaders in specific regions that could serve as models and influencers for improved dairy policy outcomes.
To that end, we are seeking innovative ideas to significantly improve the measurement, aggregation, and sharing of data associated with smallholder farmer dairy production in developing countries.

Download the Idea Submission Form | Download the complete Challenge Statement

Scientists Without Borders, in partnership with The Sackler Institute for Nutrition Science at the New York Academy of Sciences and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation seeks bold, innovative, feasible, and scalable ideas to leapfrog existing approaches and significantly improve the collection, reporting, aggregation, and sharing of data associated with dairy production and consumption all along the smallholder dairy production value chain in, but not limited to, Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

We are seeking ideas that will appropriately and successfully combine and integrate technology-based approaches and innovations with social and cultural factors, rather than focusing on any one approach in isolation. Additionally, we seek ideas that provide a clear model of sustainability - meaning an identified and measurable pathway to scale and adoption of the idea proposed - and platform or program models that are open and shared, can piggyback or integrate with existing technology or program initiatives, and that can accommodate additional functionality as needs evolve. Finally, solvers must be cognizant when proposing a solution of the resource constraints and technology limitations operating at the household or smallholder farmer level in the relevant geographies.

Reward: Up to $7,500 for novel, feasible, and cost-effective ideas and approaches that significantly improve the collection, reporting, aggregation, and sharing of data associated with smallholder dairy production and consumption in the developing world. There may be opportunities for the winning solver to work with the partners to further develop the selected idea.

Solvers:  We are seeking student solvers at all academic levels (ranging from the middle school to postdoctoral level) in order to access nontraditional creative minds and passionate problem-solvers.  We encourage students to form teams or other models of collaboration to engage as many different perspectives as possible.

 The Successful Idea Will:

  • A successful idea must propose a solution or approach that can be implemented or used at the smallholder farmer household level.
  • A successful idea must mitigate the cost per farmer reached for data collection.
  • A successful idea must propose a solution that enables the data sought to be captured at the household or smallholder level to be easily understood and input, even given varying agricultural practices, languages, degrees of education and literacy, and will provide a systematized and standard framework for the data capture and entry (Examples of data to be captured at the household level, or by smallholder farmers includes, but need not be limited to, geographic location, migration pattern, species and breed of animal, cross-breeding information, health of the animals, fodder, seasonal information such as weather, inputs, or migration patterns, quantity and quality of milk produced, quality and quantity of milk consumed at the household level, quantity and quality of milk sold, milking time of day, container and storage practices, transport to market, price at market.).
  • A successful idea must enable the data captured to be easily uploaded to a common or shared platform, and the platform must have the tools and capacity to aggregate and process the data and enable the variety of stakeholders to access, understand, analyze, and share it in a meaningful way.
  • Where a technology tool, or suite of tools, is proposed, a successful idea must propose a solution that is open and interoperable across a variety of platforms and device interfaces and that can accommodate the development of additional functionality to capture other kinds of data or piggyback on existing tools, platforms, or interventions.
  • A successful idea must propose a solution that also addresses and considers users (particularly smallholder farmers’) incentives to adopt the tools or approaches proposed, their price sensitivity or other potential barriers to adoption, and should creatively approach incentives for communities and target populations to avail themselves of the innovation (e.g., gamification, community organizing, peer-to-peer spread).
Additional Considerations
  • A successful idea must propose a solution that has the capacity to capture regional and national data. In other words, the idea proposed will not simply focus on a micro picture of household or smallholder farmer data, but will describe mechanisms to provide a macro picture across regions and geographies. In this same vein, a successful idea will be able to integrate and accommodate inclusion of existing data sets that stakeholders may wish to include (examples of existing data sets that might be relevant include International Livestock Research Institute, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, G8’s Platform for Agricultural Risk Management, and the Zanzibar Livestock Report).
  • A successful idea will also consider and address constraints of access to and reliability of mobile and other connection technologies.
  • A successful idea will propose a solution that opens up and enables channels of communication and information exchange between smallholder dairy farmers, researchers, and policymakers across geographies.
The award determination will be made by an independent panel convened for this purpose by Scientists Without Borders. The members of the judging panel will be announced prior to the close of the submission period.  Winners will be announced six weeks following the close of the submission period.

By responding to this ideation Challenge you agree:

  • You have registered on the Scientists Without Borders’ platform and provided your full name, mailing address, e-mail address, and phone number in your Idea Submission Form. Submissions will not considered complete without this information.
  • You have listed your educational affiliation (institution and grade level)
  • That the submitted idea or “response” does not and will not be deemed to contain any confidential information of any kind whatsoever
  • That you own or have the right to use and grant the right to third parties to use submitted ideas
  • To grant the Scientists Without Borders and its partners the worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, irrevocable and perpetual right to use submitted ideas but does not guarantee use of submitted ideas
  • That Scientists Without Borders reserves the sole and absolute right and discretion to (i) select for award all, some or none of the responses received to this Challenge, to select only specific elements within an idea for award and (iii) determine all award amounts
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1 Daphna K. Dror and Lindsay H. Allen. The importance of milk and other animal-source foods for children in low-income countries. Food and Nutrition Bulletin, vol. 32, no. 3, 2011.