Farm game to aid African economic development

Farm simulation games have evolved beyond workday time wasters into tools that help government experts and NGOs to educate rural African farmers.

Farm Defenders is "Farmville" for real life economic development

Farm simulation games have evolved beyond workday time wasters into tools that help government experts and NGOs educate rural African farmers about optimal ways of growing and selling crops.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has funded Farmer Defenders, an initiative to "gamify" economic development in Africa by realistically simulating local conditions, according to a recent report by Fast Company's Ben Schiller. Additional supporters are INSEAD, a graduate business school, and the market research firm ICON Group International.

Farmer Defenders gives its player -- future farmers -- a small budget to manage a farming operations. They learn the fundamentals of farming in their climate zone such as understanding the soil and weather conditions, improving crop yields, planting the right crops at the right time, and how to manage pests and agricultural diseases. Business lessons include determining the appropriate time to harvest, storing and marketing the crop. The local data is provided by ICON.

More advanced features focus on interactions with other players through forming associations, clubs, cooperatives, and building business relationships with trading partners, the Web site says. Lessons are given in operating costs and how to run a profitable farm. Even profitable farms that produce high crop yields can be at risk without an effective soil management regime.

Fast Company's Schiller wrote that the game will launch later this year and is currently being tested by U.S. graduate students. The game can be localized for any region in the world.

Related on SmartPlanet:

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com