Votes needed for UC Davis teams in international food challenge

May 2, 2013

With the world population reaching 9 billion by 2050, creative solutions are needed for global food security. The 2013 Thought for Food Challenge has put the call out and two UC Davis teams have responded. One group, Team UC Davis, proposes a social networking game that spreads awareness through crowd sourcing and draws donations through virtual purchases.

“The team is using a game platform like Farmville, which they call Global Village,” said Patrick Brown, professor in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis, the team’s mentor, in comparing the proposal to the popular social networking game. “The difference is that the settings for Global Village are realistic and representative of developing world farm settings, the game has a strong educational function and the profits from the game and purchases within the game go to fund development activities.”

Team UC Davis is made up of undergraduate and graduate students from International Agricultural Development and the Department of Plant Sciences. Their idea is to create a game application for the Facebook social media network. Players are given information and choices for farming based on real-world information gathered from developing countries, such as from a cacao orchard in Cote d’Ivoire or a maize farm in Zambia. Based on the limited resources of these farmers, they deal with issues like diseases, soil types, crop planting, where to deliver fertilizers and more.

The purchases they make in the game for virtual items like chickens or fertilizer lead to real purchases for the farmers. Partnerships with corporations like Grameen-Intel and Mars will provide the game with the real-time data those companies have gathered on current projects, while global nonprofit organizations like Heifer International will help transform the virtual purchases into real items for the farmers. The hope is to educate game players about these regions and existing farming issues, while raising donations and promoting corporate responsibility.

For the proposal to become reality, Team UC Davis must get enough votes to pass to Round 2. A total of five teams will be selected to present their business plan in Berlin, Germany, in September. Prizes include grants up to $10,000.

Voting takes place online from now to May 10. At the top of the Thought for Food page supporters can click “Like” for their favorite team. These “likes” account for 25 percent of the criteria for who ultimately moves to the next round, with a panel of three judges providing the remainder of the decision-making power.

Also representing UC Davis in the competition is Team Foodisclosure, which proposes low-cost, solar-powered LED lights for raising chickens in regions with less winter sunlight, encouraging the hens to remain productive throughout the year.

To vote, click on the “Like” icon at the top of these pages:

Team UC Davis

Team Foodisclosure

See a video about the Global Village game below:

See the Foodisclosure slideshow here:



By Bradley Hooker
Author - Communications Director