Horizon2020-CITIES2030 Inspire Hackathons Yleinen

OpenSpring INSPIRE Hackathon 2021 – #5

Challenge #5: SmartAfriHub III – African Agricultural Water Security

The goal is to continue building the African Community to support SmartFarming in Africa.

The challenge combines three concepts:  

  • Educathon – we support further development of African SmartFarming capacity development by providing rich content at SmartAfriHub 
  • Datathon – we support building an Open Repository of Data in Africa and
  • Ideathlon – we collect ideas and needs to enhance Food, and particularly Agricultural Water Security by enhancing the local Food Nutrition Surveillance System (FNSS).

We embrace transversally, over all three concepts, the COVID-19 era experiences,  observations, best practices and innovations. The ultimate goal is to build local food and specially Agricultural Water Security that is resilient in any circumstances.    

In addition,  the goal is also to support publishing of new scientific papers and building of potential consortia for research projects.   

During the previous two years Plan4All has organized 3 INSPIRE Hackathons (Nairobi, Kampala and COVID-19) that have reached out to hundreds of African smart agriculture experts, practitioners and stakeholders.  As a result of these hackathons we have a African community of practice which is active in Digital Innovation Hub –  SmartAfriHub, Whatsapp and Facebook.   Our goal is to continue and extend these activities by leveraging  OpenSpring INSPIRE Hackathon.


Digital Innovation Hub – SmartAfriHub platform connects people to the information and facilitates capacity development. Firstly, leveraging social media type of features like Blog, Forum, Science Shop and connecting users with developers and researchers. And secondly,  by sharing demo applications, where farmers, developers and researchers have a chance to cooperate, test different API for new solutions and also provide common experiments. 

Digital Innovation Hub is based on the use of Liferay Portal and as a backend, it uses SQL and non-SQL database and integrates tools like SensLog, HSlayers NG etc.

Our development goals are to improve SmartAfriHub based on user’s feedback and suggestions, to integrate new functions on the platform,  and to engage new organizations and individuals to share their own content through the platform. 


In the area of  open data we see following pathways:

  • using QGIS Layman to collect data from different countries and regions in Africa
  • promote utilisation of COPERNICUS data with focus also on Sentinel 1
  • collecting a database of best practices by using Best Practices Atlas.

According to FAO, Food Security is “a situation that exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life” .  The four pillars for Food Security are (Figure 1): 

  • Availability 
  • Access 
  • Use and Utilization 
  • Food System stability 

Figure 1: Food Security  


The starting point is the first pillar of Food Security, which is “Availability” which refers to the physical existence of food and water. 

  • Globally: Irrigated agriculture represents 20 % of the total cultivated land and contributes 40% of the total food produced worldwide. Currently, agriculture accounts for 70 % of all freshwater withdrawals globally. However, there is pressure for water re-allocation which means that 25-40% of agricultural water will be reduced. 
  • Africa: Agriculture is the largest user of water in Africa, accounting for about 85-88 % of total water use. Yet only 185 million ha or 6 % of the total area of the region is under cultivation. Of this, some 12 million or 6% of the total cultivated area is under irrigation. (Source)

The World Health Organisation (WHO) published in 1984 a description of a Food Nutrition Surveillance System (FNSS).The national and local nutrition surveillance systems focus on identifying trends in key nutrition-related health indicators for their populations, with particular attention on vulnerable groups. The objectives are: 

  • Monitor population health and nutritional status
  • Deliver trustworthy data on the people nutritional status
  • Show trends and comparisons
  • Raise awareness about nutritional problems
  • Provide guidance to health-related intervention programs 

The national and local authorities’ responsibility is to establish a pragmatic and reliable surveillance system to alarm and prevent water availability and water quality-related food security problems and risk.

This hackathon challenge is addressed to African communities’ Agricultural Water Security. The aim is to grasp local current situations, identify needs and ideate solutions to improve the water monitoring system.  

The water monitoring system encompasses e.g. collecting data, analyzing data and sharing data with feasible and robust digital tools to enhance decision making, risk management and development.

The registration for this challenge opens on 1st April. Registration link will be available at

The mentors of this challenge are:

TUULA LÖYTTY earned her MSc in Industrial Engineering and Management from Lappeenranta-Lahti University of Technology. She has worked for 18 years at the private sector corporations such as dairy-, sugar- and metal industry and for 18 years at the higher education in three different universities contributing research and innovation action. Digital solutions and ICT technology have been part of her work since 80′ and she prefers to act as a bridge between IT – developers and end-users.  She launched the new phase in 2018 when she jumped into an entrepreneur career.  She is a member of Plan4all ( committee. Co-operation with Plan4all has encompassed mentoring in Nairobi, Kampala and COVID-19 Inspire Hackathons in 2019-2020.

MARKETA KOLLEROVA studied Linguistics at University of South Bohemia. In the Plan4all team, she is responsible for international cooperation and communication, where she uses her experience from her past life as a foreign mission clerk. Enjoys the comparison of living in different countries and regions.

KAREL CHARVAT graduated in theoretical cybernetics. He is a member of International Society for Precision Agriculture, Research Data Alliance, vice chair of Club of Ossiach, CAGI, and CSITA. He was in period 2005 – 2007 President of European Federation for Information Technology in Agriculture Food and Environment (EFITA). Now is chair of OGC Agriculture DWG. He was organiser on many hackathons, where as most important were series of INSPIRE Hacks and MEDHackathon. He work on implementation on national INSPIRE Geoportal. Now he is also active in Plan4all association. He has long time experience in ICT for Environment, transport, Agriculture and Precision Farming. Now he is one from promoters of Open and Big Data in Agriculture in Europe. Participation in projects: Wirelessinfo, Premathmod, EMIRES, REGEO, RuralWins, Armonia, aBard, EPRI Start, Ami@netfood, AMI4For, Voice, Naturnet Redime, Mobildat, SpravaDat, Navlog, c@r, Humboldt, WINSOC, Plan4all, Habitats, Plan4business, SmartOpenData, FOODIE, SDI4Apps, AgriXchange, FOODIE, SDI4Apps, OTN, DataBio, EO4AGRO, EUXDAT, SmartAgriHub, SKIN and other projects.

CITIES2030 PoliRural Yleinen

PoliRural meets CITIES2030

H2020 PoliRural project develops an innovative text mining application called SemEx – Semantic Explorer. SemEx pilot is addressed to analyse unstructured data which is related to rural development and rural attractiveness.

CITIES2030 implements System Thinking on City/Region Food System transformation.

CITIES2030 conducts a “literature review” on System Thinking, but not in a traditional manner, but using a text mining application which is developed at PoliRural project.

One example of the SemEx visualizations

Blue Wings Composting PoliRural Yleinen

Blue Wings Composting

The STEM-center in Päijät-Häme region organized a StarT-festival 16.3.2021. The festival was part of the Start-program which introduces STEM project and good practices which are carried out at Päijät-Häme schools. The link to the StarT-programme is this one

The Blue Wings Composting – Toukkakompostori in Finnish – was one of the candidates in the group of “good practices”.

Look the video about Blue Wings Composting.

Blue Wings Composting PoliRural Yleinen

Blue Wings Composting part 4/4

An organic fertilizer

The experiment at Länsiharju school is finished. Children and the teacher feed most of the larvae to teacher colleague’s chickens and to the Vesijärvi fishes. Less than 100 larvae were bred from larvae up to black soldier flies.

The fourth fraction which is a result of the experiment is a glass bin full of organic fertilizer which is a composition of composted food, peat which was used as a bed of larvae and larvae poo. I will use this fertilizer in the garden in spring 2021.

Blue Wings Composting PoliRural Yleinen

Larvae-based bioconversion adds value to four end-user groups 1/4

Black Soldier Fly larvae – based bioconversion at Länsiharju school in Lahti was terminated according to the plan.

The bioconversion by larvae was in operation for 14 days. Larvae ate with good appetite mixed school kitchen waste food that was served to larvae once a day.

The bioconversion was managed by the teacher of Länsiharju school and 10-years old children of the class. The forthcoming bioscientists were courage and curious, and they handled and monitored larvae daily basis according to detailed guidance and data collection matrix (see pics below).

Larvae guidance (Copyright Tuula Löytty)
Data collection matrix (Copyright Tuula Löytty)

The bioconversion produced value tor four different end-user groups. The first end-user group was the teacher’s home chicken farm. As you can see on the video the chickens really enjoyed to eat fat larvae which are full of protein and oil. Healthy diet indeed – for chickens.

Blue Wings Composting PoliRural

On Black Soldier Fly larvae and rural entrepreneurship

Based on Google Scholar database the number of published papers that include the term “Black Soldier Fly larvae” has increased since 2015. A new record will be made by the end of 2020, as 449 papers are already published in the first 8 months (Figure 1). 

Figure 1: The number of papers that mention “Black Soldier Fly larvae” and are published on Google Scholar 

What is Black Soldier Fly larvae and what is it capable of?

Hermetia illucens i.e. the black soldier fly, is a common and globally widespread fly.The adults of Hermetia illucens measure approximitely 16 millimetres long.Back Soldier Fly (BSF) larvae are used to compost waste or convert the waste into animal feed. It’s a bio-converter. Fly larvae are among the most efficient animals at converting feed into biomass.  One larvae is able to eat about 130 mg food waste daily. Unfortunately the life of greedy larvae is short, perhaps 2 weeks hence the BSF farming requires constant upkeep. The other reason to farm BSF larvae is that the fat larvae is an excellent source of protein both for humans and animals. 

Figure 2: Black soldier fly larvae

Black Soldier Fly larvae and RDI actions

There is no lack of wicked problems:  the need for economic opportunity, growth and development in rural areas;  the problem of disposing of millions of tons of food waste generated in both rural and urban settings each year;  a risk for hunger pandemic, a need for high-quality protein products both for food and feed.

The problems are so big that there is no chance to leave any stone unturned.  Researchers world wide have since  1999 researched, tested and experimented how to farm BSFs and larvae of BSFs. The researchers have tested BSF larvae’s ability and limitations to be an efficient bio-converter. They have studied the business models of bio-conversion and also BSFs’ usage as a protein source. Technical upscaling from laboratory scale to industry scale business has been simulated and prepared.

The investments in the last decade on research, development and innovations actions have opened avenues to eager entrepreneurs, particularly in rural settings, to establish BSF larvae based production and business that relies on evidence and research results.  In addition to scientific papers the diverse research actions have hopefully also advanced networking, co-operation, knowledge transfer and cross-sectorial understanding of Insect Economy. 

Black Soldier Fly larvae and the wider concept of Insect Economy may provide a case to analyse policy makers’ influence on past RDI actions:

  • How weak signals have been noted in? 
  • How RDI funding has been addressed to? 
  • How entrepreneurs have been supported?  
  • How food/feed legislation and regulation has adapted into the domain?
  • How policy makers and governance have participated in networking, ecosystem building and cooperation? 

From science to practice and viable business 

There is still a lot of work to do to direct BSF larvae farming and Insect Economy into serious new business to benefit rural areas and to create new jobs.  The main limitation to make business of BSF seems to be the markets.  The protein products for food or feed still need customer acceptance and routes to markets. In addition, the larvae ability to process waste e.g. mixed food waste or manure is unexploited in the industrial scale. The waste handling processes (e.g. biomass collecting), the business models and production technology are not ready for that.  

In order to enhance further developments in Insect Economy, the policy decisions that direct practise-oriented RDI actions, are based on evidence and are timely, give a push to new rural entrepreneurship (Figure 3).   

Figure 3: Policy making has a role to enhance rural entrepreneurship

Blue Wings Composting experiment 

Blue Wings Composting experiment kick-off has taken place in August 2020. Smart & Lean Hub Oy manages the experiment that aims to recycle low-grade food bio-waste by using 10 000 Black Soldier Fly larvae. The experiment and its extensions (e.g. Sciences Cafes and visits) are carried out with Länsiharju school class 10-year old children, Lappeenranta-Lahti University of Technology (LUT), Natural Resources Institute Finland (LUKE) and Päijät-Häme STEM-center.

Blue Wings Composting experiment is part of the environmental project – Lahti – European Green Capital 2021 which aims to create innovation and improvement in environmental issues, such as recycling, energy production and awareness. 

In co-operation with Lappeenranta – Lahti University of Technology (LUT) SIRKKA project – New business from sustainable insect based protein production

Blue Wings Composting PoliRural

Science Cafe for Insect Economy

A distinguished group of scientists and business innovators will gather together in Lahti on 24.9.2020 to discuss and share findings and experiences about Insect Economy in theory and in practice. The main topics for our discussion are:

Insect and larvae based protein production

Larvae propelled bioconversion

Cross-sector interconnection in the bio-based economy

Entrepreneurship in rural areas

Children point of view and their relationship to nature

Science Cafe is one of the elements of Blue Wings Composting i.e. Toukkakompostori experiment that is carried out at Länsiharju school and supported by Lahti Green Capital project.

The event is organised together with SIRKKA project that is run by Lappeenranta Technical University (LUT). SIRKKA – kestävästä proteeiinituotannosta uutta liiketoimintaa.

The Blue Wings Composting – Toukkakompostori – project is run by Smart & Lean Hub Oy and facilitated by CEO and founder of Blue Wings Composting, Saverio Danubio.

Blue Wings Composting experiment explores also Insect Economy as potential domain to establish novel rural entrepreneurship. Horizon2020 PoliRural project is designed to advance rural policy development to increase rural attractiveness. One dimension of attractiveness is a possibility to work in rural area for example as an entrepreneur.