Awards and Achievements

VIA wins at COP28

Virtual Irrigation Academy - Australia was announced as winner of the Water Changemaker Innovation Awards at COP28 in Dubai on 2 December 2023.

The Water Changemaker Innovation Awards is a global initiative that recognizes high-level commitment and leadership for climate-resilient water investments. The Awards also showcase the most promising climate-resilient innovations with the greatest potential for scale, replication, and further investment to support a water-secure world.

Read the press release: Press release

VIA announced as Top Innovator

Virtual Irrigation Academy was selected among the winners of the World Economic Forum and ‘Smarter Climate Farmers Challenge’ in October 2023.

This challenge called for solutions using climate-smart agriculture approaches to improve food production, promote better living standards, respond to climate change and lead to the efficient care of the planet’s resources within food ecosystems. Its focus areas included: knowledge, skills, and education; resource efficiency and sustainability; inclusive technology; and innovative financing. [body text]

Learn more about what VIA is doing as part of the Smarter Climate Farmers Challenge here: More info

VIA partner joins WFP innovation accelerator

VIA’s production and distribution partner Mechro Limited, based in Blantyre Malawi, has been selected to join the Agricultural Innovation for Climate Resilience Programme (AICR), with a significant cash injection to expand their production facility. Mechro has been producing VIA’s Chameleon sensors since 2022 and the team has undergone significant training and capacity building programs to ensure production quality and support meets VIA’s high standards. Mechro works in close collaboration with the Malawi Government Ministry of Agriculture to supply these tools to smallholder irrigators throughout the country.

Through the support of the AICR programme, Mechro is seeking to produce and supply VIA’s Chameleon sensors to 5,000 farmers in 6 regions of Malawi. By manufacturing locally Mechro can sell these tools at prices local farmers can afford. 80% of Malawi’s population rely on small farms for their livelihood and have an annual farm income of AUD120 per year. Providing relevant and affordable technology to these farmers is needed to help alleviate poverty and improve food security.

AICR is a partnership between the World Food Programme (WFP) Innovation Accelerator and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ) in search of scalable innovative solutions that support farmers and other agriculture stakeholders to build capabilities to mitigate effects of climate change on low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

Learn more about AICR here: More info

VIA Showcased in ACIAR publication

“The Chameleon soil water sensor is one of the most novel and transformative pieces of technology to arise from ACIAR-supported research.”

This is the opening line to the story on VIA contained in the ‘40 years of ACIAR’ book

The story outlines the journey of VIA from its inception in 2015 to its current operation as a not-for-profit company. Since 2015, the Virtual Irrigation Academy has been adopted by other ACIAR-supported projects and over 50,000 Chameleon sensors have been used in 20 countries, with smallholder farmers experiencing up to 30% increases in yields and 30% reductions in water use.

'40 years of ACIAR', published in July 2023, features some stories of partnerships, projects and people that have been part of the ACIAR journey as it contributes to sustainable development in the Indo-Pacific region.

The book is now available to read or download here: ACIAR book download

VIA impacts highlighted at UN General Assembly

During Minister for Foreign Affairs Senator the Hon Penny Wong’s speech to the UN General Assembly in September 2023, she highlighted how VIA’s innovative tools are improving the lives of farmers in Southern Africa.

Senator Wong highlighted how “Australia is sharing our innovations in climate adaptation in the Pacific and beyond. We are supporting improved food security in some of the most vulnerable communities in the world, including with irrigation technology that has improved crop yields and reduced water usage by 30% for farmers in countries including Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.”

Read the full speech here: Full speech