Croydon student wins scholarship for farming app

Nasir and Branson

Yammama with Sir Richard Branson. Pic: Middlesex University

Croydon resident Nasir Yammama has won a golden mentoring opportunity after creating an app to help Nigerian farmers facing a food crisis in the country.

Yammama, 24, from Nigeria, is a student at Middlesex University and has lived in Croydon for the past two years. He beat thousands of applicants to win the Enterprise Challenge, an online competition run by the British Council and Virgin Atlantic, in partnership with Zenith Bank.

The prize included as £5000 grant, courtesy of Zenith Bank, a fully funded scholarship to attend a five-day entrepreneurship foundation course at the Branson Centre in South Africa plus a business masters class with Sir Richard Branson.

“Meeting Sir Richard Branson was a remarkable experience for me,” said Yammama. “He was full of wisdom and humility. I totally enjoyed and will forever value meeting him as he gracefully answered basically every question I had in mind for him, along with priceless advice on business and the rocky road to success.”

As a student of Creative Technology, Yamama’s course puts a strong emphasis on innovation and this is the second app he has created. The first was a geo-location app.  Yammama comes from a farming family in Nigeria and is an advocate for using technology to empower agriculture and its practitioners, which inspired his latest creation.

“I have a firm conviction that agriculture can solve the numerous food and environmental crises we face globally.”

When he met with Branson, Yammama asked how much ambition was too much.  Branson replied:  “Nothing seems too ambitious as long as you firmly believe and are willing to work towards achieving it.”

Yammama wanted to create the app to act as an all-round companion for farmers, giving them intelligence they wouldn’t normally have access to, therefore making their businesses more effective.

He explains:  “Based on the farmer’s location, the app provides information about their soil type, weather and climate as well as a custom seed guide tailored to the farmer’s specific geography and overall location. This information is presented in a manner that will enable decision-making.”

This insight will enable a farmer to decide whether it would be a good or bad year for the particular crop.  Once they have decided what to plan, the app offers weed management, recommendation by location and crop type as well as guidance on pesticides, fertilisers and guidance all the way to the maturity and harvest of the crop.

Yammama has thought of the whole process right through to market, taking information from a range of areas and delivering it in one place in the most functional way for the farmers.

“There is a market feature which provides automatic market prices and offers from buyers. I am also including the farmers’ social lives and events such as market days, farming festivals and other things in order to achieve maximum effect. There is also access for low-end mobile phones through text messaging.”

Yammama will use his grant to bring his app to the market and hopes to pilot it early 2015. In the future he hopes to make the app global and introduce it to farmers in other developing nations. He offered some advice to other app developers.

“Just put all the energy and spirit you can muster until you get very good at it. Make friends with coding, design and the internet. Get resources, tutorials and interact with experts and aspiring developers.”

Once he has finished his studies, Yammama plans to start-up a tech business and develop numerous solutions across the globe.  As part of his prize he also gets to attend the Branson Centre for Entrepreneurship in South Africa, which plans to run a pilot project for his agricultural app in Nigeria early next year.

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