Youth led-innovative solutions can help addressing today’s challenges in the agri-food sector

FAO and Zhejiang University are launching the call for participation to the 'Global AgriInno Challenge 2020' in Zhejiang Province, China, focused on harnessing innovation solutions in response to the challenges associated with 'distribution and sales of agri-food products'.

Rome, September 2020- By 2050, the population of the planet will reach 9.6 billion, requiring a 60% increase in food production. Since March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in severe economic and social distress around the world, with negative impacts on agri-food systems, hindering logistic transportation and sale channels.

'In the challenging context we are all experiencing, the demand for agricultural products has been increasing dramatically, and on continuous basis’  warns Dejan Jakovjlevic, FAO Deputy Director of the IT Services Division, stressing the need to accelerate solutions to address new challenges of distribution and sales of Agri food products. ‘Innovation, digital technology and entrepreneurship have become even more important in the acceleration and  transformation of agri-food systems, as they increase productivity and effectiveness, and contribute significantly to risk reduction and increased resilience’ continues Dejan, highlighting FAO’s recent numerous initiatives as a major actor in the innovation field through the modernization and digitalization of its services. In this process, FAO and many other stakeholders worldwide have recognized the critical role of youth to formulate digital innovative solutions that could lead to this sustainable change that the world is now urgently calling for. 

To help youth respond to these great challenges that the agri-food sector is going to face, and provide them with efficient support in that journey, FAO, in partnership with Zhejiang University is organizing the 2020 Global AgriInno Challenge this 04-05 December 2020 in Zhejiang Province, China. 

This event is part of the establishment of FAO Global Network for Digital Agriculture and Innovation Hubs, which aim is to enhance innovation ecosystem and culture to empower agripreneurs. ‘Through this challenge, we want to identify, accelerate and scale-up youth-led innovative business models and digital solutions to unlock the potentials of agri-food innovation’ says Dr. Longbao Wei, the Director of Institute of Food and Agribusiness Management, Zhejiang University, expanding the call for participation to all youth with digital innovations or ideas for agri-food sector. This stresses the global component of the event and reinforces the
               direction taken with FAO partnership, launched at the 2019 International Rural Development Forum towards establishing a Centre of Excellence for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Its mission is to improve coherent
               action for encouraging agricultural innovation, youth employment and entrepreneurship globally, while strengthening innovative agriculture services to increase digital inclusion and reduce rural poverty. 

The AgriInno Challenge objectives include implementing the following actions:

a) to share the latest information, knowledge and best practices in agri-food innovation, technology and business models; 

b) to build an enabling environment through Public-Private Partnership and co-creation opportunities with diverse participants, practitioners and experts; 

c) to engage and empower the young agripreneurs and innovators to tackle development challenges through FAO and partners’ global network and continuous support during and after the innovation challenge. 

The selected teams will be invited to pitch their digital development solutions in Zhejiang Province, in China on 27-28 November 2020 with all relevant expenses covered. Winning teams will be granted seed funding, the opportunity to participate in a one-week agro-bootcamp and world study tour. Other benefits will also include the access to open data sets from FAO and other partners, as well as direct advice from experienced experts from UN, international organizations, the private sector (with top angel investors from venture capital funds and business leaders in the agri- food sector) and academia.

Applications can be made by filling the Application Form with the Digital Development Solution (in PPT format) and a video, sending these to and copying by 08 November 2020 (24:00 CEST). More details can be found here

‘The AgriInno Challenge 2020 provide a good opportunity to share information, and enhance  knowledge on smart agriculture, innovation and start-up practice through a unique global network composed of United Nations’ mentors, leading angel investors, academic experts and youth agripreneurs from the global agri-food sector, which is also one of approaches for FAO to enhance south-south and triangular cooperation,’ says Anping Ye, FAO Director of South-South and Triangular Cooperation Division. ‘Putting young people, including agripreneurs, at the center, will be part of the Solution for the Future’. 

© 2020 Zhejiang University