Innovation is changing the way food is produced, processed, traded and consumed and building more resilient and robust food systems. Both digital technologies and innovative practices for growing food have the potential to transform food systems, providing smallholder farmers with a better future, making farming more sustainable and ultimately closing the digital gap between developed and developing countries.
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Since 2018, FAO and the Federal Government of Switzerland encourage innovation by publically recognizing best practices through the International Innovation Award for Sustainable Food and Agriculture.
The award does not only acknowledge digital innovation, but also new or existing products or practices that are used in a specific context, to increase effectiveness, competitiveness and resilience. Imaflora Brazil receives the Innovation Award at FAO headquarters for linking indigenous groups to markets.
The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture is awarded for its youth agribusiness incubation programme in 6 African countries. Practical Action in Bangladesh is awarded for empowering landless or marginalized farmers through ‘sandbar cropping’.Celebrating innovation at the FAO Awards Ceremony, FAO headquarters, 2019.
The innovation awards is divided in two categories:
- USD 30,000 is awarded for excellence in digitization and innovation for sustainable food systems.
- USD 30,000 recognizes an innovation that specifically empowers youth in sustainable food systems.
All applications will be judged according to:
- quality and merit of the innovation;
- potential benefit, impact and sustainability;
- value for money.
- Applicants need to clearly indicate how the innovation impacts more than one level of supply chain from farmers to consumers.
- Applicants should demonstrate how the innovation strengthens the link between farmers and consumers, e.g. through tracking sustainability features of traded food and agriculture products on labels.
- Applicants need to show how the innovation strengthens the role of youth (under 35) in sustainable food systems.
Submission of Applications
Applications should be submitted using the attached application form by 19 March 2021 to the Secretariat of the Award at the following email address: Innovation-Award@fao.org for endorsement and submission to the screening committee
International Innovation Award for Sustainable Food and Agriculture Screening Committee
A Screening Committee chaired by FAO and the Swiss Federal Office for Agriculture will be composed of the Secretary of COAG and representatives of non-State actor/s from the field of research, academia, young agriculture entrepreneurship, civil society and/or the private sector.
The screening committee will review a list of valid options submitted by the secretariat and establish a shortlist of six applications for each category to be submitted to the Selection Committee.
International Innovation Award for Sustainable Food and Award Selection Committee The Selection Committee, co-chaired by the FAO Chief Economist/Chief Scientist and a high-level representative of the Swiss Federal Office for Agriculture, and comprising the COAG Chair and high-level non-State actor representative/s, will make a final decision on the basis of the short-list submitted by the Screening Committee.
Conferment of Award
The Awards will be presented by the Director-General and a high-level representative of the Government of Switzerland to an individual that represents the winning innovations during the FAO Awards ceremony held in 2021 (date TBC).
The prize may also cover (depending on COVID-19 health and safety measures and/or travel restrictions) the cost of travel and accommodation for the representative of the selected innovations to attend a special ceremony at FAO headquarters in Rome.
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