Thrive for Change

The impact of the 2017 Youth Ag-Summit will live on long after our delegates have returned to their home communities. Not only did each and every delegate commit to doing "Three Little Things" to impact food security in a positive way, but with the help of funding from Bayer, many of their innovative ideas on solving food insecurity will be put into action via the YAS ‘Thrive for Change’ projects.

A central pillar of the program, the projects – based on the UN Sustainable Development Goals – saw delegates develop concrete solutions under the umbrella theme of Zero Hunger (SDG 2). Every afternoon the ten breakout groups diverged to develop their innovative project ideas based on a specific SDG. On the final day, groups took to the stage to make the case for why their project should take home future funding. Some had dancing, others had videos, and one group even turned to cartoons to tell their story! 

With the pitch process highly competitive, three of these ‘Thrive for Change’ projects were selected for further funding from Bayer

Taking home the top prize of €10,000 were AGRIKUA, tackling Gender Equality (SDG5) in agriculture through an online platform where young Kenyan women can access information about professional development opportunities. As they explain, “If we can connect these young women to opportunities, we could see drastic change in the empowerment of women.” In addition to receiving funding and professional development support, AGRIKUA will also be invited back to Europe to present their project to an industry platform. 

The runners up were Seeds of Change, winning €5,000 for their idea of building a grassroots community of young agricultural champions – or as they put it, “planting the seeds of change to connect a forest of impact.” Aiming to educate the public about modern agriculture (Quality Education, SDG 4), their project will bridge the disconnect between people who consume and people who produce food, starting in the classroom.

In third place with €3,000 of funding came Imperfect Picks, who will develop their cartoon campaign to change children’s perceptions of ‘ugly’ fruit and veg and tackle Responsible Consumption and Production (SDG 12). Their rationale? “Just like humans, we don’t care about the appearance of fruit and veg: what matters is what’s on the inside.” They hope to create a cultural shift for retailers and consumers, including developing a points-based game to win the hearts of the younger generations. 

Only three projects could walk away with funding, but that’s not to say that the remaining project ideas weren’t equally inspiring:

  • Agstension (Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, SDG 9) want to help older farmers create new traditions, showing that the reward of adopting innovation is worth the risk. Available in print and online format, their free educational platform will provide finance opportunities, information on new technologies and resources to bridge the knowledge gap. 
  • ClimAg (Climate Action, SDG 13) took inspiration from their own mentor, who lost his crops as a result of heavy rainfall. They visualize a multilingual app which would increase smallholder farmers’ ability to react to climate change, by connecting smallholder farmers with their peers around the world as well as universities and other stakeholders. 
  • Farmerella (Gender Equality, SDG 5) hope to connect women in ag, sharing stories from other successful women and providing training. Through web, radio and printed materials and a network of female brand ambassadors, they want to get the message out that across the globe, women are inspiring in agriculture, every day. 
  • Powerfull “You” (Climate Action, SDG 13) believe that as consumers, we need a tangible reminder of our environmental footprint. Enter their app to incentivize a change in buying habits: tracking purchases, sharing tips and community resources, and giving the consumer a financial incentive to reach their goals – showing us each that we are powerful; we can change things. 
  • Waste Warriors (Responsible Production and Consumption, SDG 12) know that food is for feeding, not for wasting – yet 100kg of food is wasted per person every year. They’ll fix this through a global campaign and educational program, backed by cooking videos, infographics and apps; getting consumers in the wallet by showing exactly how much money is lost per household through food waste. 
  • STEMS (Quality Education, SDG 4) believe that exposing youth to modern farming is key to attracting vibrant young talent and keeping them engaged in the ag economy. With the need greatest in developing countries, they’ll start in Uganda, developing a collaborative community-based model to showcase the sector, from farm to fork.
  • #storyofAg (Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, SDG 9) hope to break down barriers with the public, engaging cynical consumers with the dynamic tech coming out of the sector. Their idea? “Let ag tell the story of ag” through a viral video to start a conversation – set in a grocery store showcasing products of the future, and featuring the ag community as disguised employees. 

Although only three groups could walk away with funding, as the Youth Ag-Summit moderator Simon Pampena put it, every single one of our delegates is a winner, and an agvocate for life. And if their projects are anything to go by, we expect we’ll be hearing a lot more of their world-changing ideas in the future!