FAO Ag-Lab innovation incubation event launched in Beijing


FAO Ag-Lab innovation incubation event launched in Beijing

Innovation lab gives youth the chance to unlock and accelerate social and economic potential of traditional agriculture sector

This article was initially published by FAO China, and is reproduced for the e-Agriculture CoP

11/07/2018. New initiatives can empower the traditional agricultural sector and enhance rural livelihoods, according to FAO China at the FAO Ag-Lab innovation incubation event, launched in Shijia Hutong Museum today in Beijing.

Co-hosted by Tsinghua University, China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation and China Internet Information Centre (CIIC), the incubation event has gathered more than 60 participants from UN agencies, financial institutions, NGOs, academia and the private sector to watch and listen to innovative solutions developed by Tsinghua University students. The students are addressing challenges in the agricultural sector, such as the precariousness of poor smallholder farmers, their lack of connectivity and access to markets, and the overuse of pesticides during the production process.

In the context of FAO China’s Innovation Lab, FAO has launched this 8-week postgraduate service design course in collaboration with Tsinghua University, integrating ICT tools to FAO’s group-based and participatory learning process - Farmer Field School (FFS).

Through theoretical learning and practical analysis, 15 students have come up with several innovative solutions aiming to address challenges in poverty reduction. The developed ideas are the following: an e-commerce platform to boost production and enhance product safety; a program using Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) for food and environmental safety; a combination of mobile applications and website to develop capacity building for local trainers and farmer trainees in remote areas; and a series of multimedia products to better preserve the agricultural system of tea in Fuzhou.

Vincent Martin, Representative of FAO China highlighted, “The Innovation Lab provides a space for actors from sectors as academia, tech-companies or government entities to gather and leverage collective intelligence to solve key bottlenecks encountered in rural areas and improve smallholder farmers’ livelihood, reduce poverty and promote agroecology.”

“The service design course constitutes a decisive milestone of the Innovation Lab. This year, emphasis was put on ICT tools’ capacity to turn a traditional chemical intensive food and agricultural production into a modern, environmental-friendly, and socially sustainable system,” Mr. Martin added.

Nicholas Rosellini, UN Resident Coordinator in China warmly welcome this initiative. He emphasized in this opening speech, “To achieve our ambitious Sustainable Development Goals which we have committed to, we must embrace innovation. We must explore less traditional paths by incorporating new practices and determining the best-fit solutions through experimentation. ”

Ten experts from various sectors, such as Dr. Shi Yan, one of the leading figure in promoting the development of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) in China; Jiang Fangzhou, an influential writer and a great inspiration to young people; professors from the Tsinghua University and celebrities with considerable achievements in other agricultural and commercial fields formed an expert committee. The committee provided feedback and support to students’ projects and chose the best team that won a prize award and 10,000 RMB as a start bonus.

The rest of the students were also awarded a memorial prizes and a bonus. As a conclusion of the event, FAO China called for all actors involved in shaping the food system of the future, including the private sector.

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