Organized by Bayer, together with the two Belgian young farmers associations Groene Kring and Fédération des Jeunes Agriculteurs, the event provided an opportunity for delegates to work on concrete solutions to one of humanity's greatest challenges: How to feed a growing world population in a sustainable manner.
At the Youth-Ag Summit, delegates, including four from Canada, worked throughout the week in groups of 10 to develop their ideas, before pitching to a jury of experts and the audience. The jury and the audience then selected the winners on the basis of criteria such as feasibility, innovativeness and creativity:
- Third place went to "Imperfect Picks", a group who was assigned to work on SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production. These delegates impressed with their cartoon campaign to promote "ugly fruits" to children, and enable a broader cultural shift towards accepting food that appears blemished but is still of good quality. They won €3,000 to further develop and implement their project.
- Second place went to "Seeds of Change", a group of delegates focusing on SDG 4: Quality Education. They will use their prize of €5,000 to fund a project aimed at promoting agriculture in schools through young agricultural champions, in order to bridge the disconnect between people who consume, and people who produce food.
- Finally, first place was awarded to the group "AGRIKUA" ("kua" being the Swahili word for "grow"), whose project focuses on promoting Gender Equality (SDG 5) in the agricultural sector. Their plan to create an online professional platform for young Kenyan women seeking opportunities in agriculture impressed the jury and audience alike, and they took home the grand prize of €10,000. On top of this funding, the AGRIKUA delegates will also receive dedicated training and coaching to help make the project a reality. They will also be invited back to Europe to present their project to a relevant industry platform.
"I'm very fortunate to have been part of such an amazing team. The outcome we achieved is because of the collaboration and commitment of our group to make a real impact in addressing food security," said Hayward. "Within 24 hours our lives changed. Since my teammates and I arrived at home, various groups have expressed their interest in our project."
Hayward wasn't the only Canadian to garner attention at the Youth Ag-Summit. In fact, all of the top teams had representation from Canada—the only country in attendance to do so.
"We are extremely proud of our Canadian delegates," said Al Driver, president and CEO, Bayer Crop Science. "These four delegates used their diverse experience and backgrounds to find tangible solutions to addressing food security. They should all be proud in the manner they represented their country to the world."
Speaking about this year's crop of winners, Fleur Wilkins, Head of strategic messaging and executive communications for Bayer Crop Science and member of the jury, said, "We were blown away by the level of creativity, intelligence, and diligence shown by each of the delegate groups in the final projects they presented. Bayer is thrilled to be funding three of these for future development, but we are convinced that all of this year's Youth Ag-Summit delegates will continue to champion and contribute to a more sustainable food system."
As well as working in groups to develop their projects, delegates spent the week hearing from world-renowned speakers and partner organisations, who inspired them to each commit to doing "Three Little Things" in their everyday life to foster greater food security.
They also paid a visit to the EU Committee of the Regions, and met with Members of the EU Parliament Tom Vandenkendelaere and Richard Ashworth to discuss agricultural policy. Another highlight of the week was a visit to Hof ten Bosch, a Bayer ForwardFarm nestled in the heart of the Belgian countryside.
Visit www.youthagsummit.com to meet the delegates and to learn more about the Summit.