The Rural Youth Innovation Award honours young people who care about biodiversity, market access and the preservation of traditions

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The Rural Youth Innovation Award honours young people who care about biodiversity, market access and the preservation of traditions

Rome, 13 July 2020 – Rossana Polastri, Director of the Latin America and the Caribbean Division of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), has announced the winners of the Rural Youth Innovation Award project financed by China-IFAD South-South and Triangular Cooperation Facility. This prize has been created by IFAD to strengthen and build the capacities of young people and to promote opportunities being created by young people who are already changing the rural landscape of the region.

Ten groups of young people from Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico and Peru are receiving this award in the different categories of the competition, in which more than 600 initiatives from 18 countries of the region were entered.

The winning initiatives reflect the concern of youth in the region about biodiversity conservation, soil and native plant reclamation, market access for family farmers and the consumption of organic products whose cultivation and processing promote health and social inclusion.

The entries also reflect a keen interest in preventing food waste and in preserving traditions as a way of building community and sharing knowledge that will open up job and career opportunities for young people in rural areas in the future.

“For IFAD, rural youth are a priority. We are well aware of the serious problems faced by the rural youth of Latin America and the Caribbean — unemployment, migration to urban areas, substandard working conditions — but we also know that they are the ones who are coming up with new ideas and who are able to see opportunities that no one had ever imagined before” said Rossana Polastri.

The Rural Youth Innovation Award was created to foster that creativity, which is so crucial when it comes to solving long-standing problems such as family farmers’ lack of market access and low productivity.

The 10 award winners will have the opportunity to strengthen their capabilities as people and as organizations with the help of mentoring programmes, exchanges and the dissemination of information about their initiatives throughout the Latin American and Caribbean region.

“We are confident that this will help them to continue to use their skills and talent to promote an inclusive, sustainable form of rural development, which is of key importance in achieving what we all yearn for: a society that leaves no one behind and that can withstand the impact of severe crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic”, asserted Polastri.

The award winners in the various categories are:

Climate action. The Sembrando Vida (“planting life”) group, composed of the environmentalist Karem Bejarano and her siblings, runs a tree nursery in Buga Valley in Valle del Cauca Province, Colombia, which benefits women heads of household and young people who were displaced by violence and have since returned to their community.

Communication and technology. Raíz Capixaba is an agrotechnology firm founded by eight young engineers and economists in the State of Espirito Santo, Brazil. They have developed an application that is providing a direct market link to 251 family farmers.

Conservation. Flor de Tierra (“flower of the earth”) is a company founded by three young Guatemalans who develop organic products (primarily organic fertilizers and animal feed supplements) and promote the appropriate use of microorganisms in agriculture. They sell their products in the departments of San Marcos and Quetzaltenango.

Education. Una Mano para Oaxaca (“a hand for Oaxaca”) was launched to support the recovery of areas hit by earthquakes in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec (Oaxaca, Mexico). This organization works to strengthen the social fabric and identity of the indigenous Zapotec peoples by holding workshops to teach and preserve traditional crafts and skills, cultural routes and grass-roots education programmes.

Income generation. Gralha Azul (“blue magpie”) is a cooperative tourism network that generates income for indigenous and other families and a variable number of young people and small business owners in Turvo, State of Paraná, Brazil. It offers services to its clients such as adventure sports and cultural tours of indigenous and Afro-Brazilian (Quilombola) communities.

Financial inclusion. Libertat is a Colombian enterprise that organizes rural financial education programmes employing an educational methodology based on the use of learner-friendly language, real-life cases, and play.

Food security. The Pé na terra (“feet on the ground") group advocates natural foods and sustainable agriculture as a path towards a more just society. Its members conduct agroforestry work that combines the reclamation of forests in Río Grande do Sul, Brazil, with the production of organic foods that are then sold at a local farmers’ market.

Sustainability. Hexa Biotech takes advantage of the physiological processes of the black soldier fly to sustainably convert tons of organic waste into tons of organic fertilizer and animal feed. The firm is located in Coahuila, Mexico.

Inclusion of vulnerable groups. Awards are being given to two initiatives in this category:

AgroWayu is an agricultural venture undertaken by young Peruvian agronomists who are passionate about high social impact projects that directly benefit indigenous families in rural areas. They are working to develop nutritious foods to replace unhealthy food products for children.

Fortalecimento e consolidação de grupos de coletores de sementes do Cerrado (“Strengthening and consolidating seed collection groups of the Cerrado region”) is a group of young people in the Alto Rio Pardo region of the State of Minas Gerais, Brazil, that is supporting the efforts of traditional communities to preserve the indigenous species of the Cerrado tropical savannahs which cover a large part of central Brazil.

For further information on the Rural Youth Innovation Award in Latin America and the Caribbean, use this link or contact:


Press release no. IFAD/31/2020

IFAD invests in rural people, empowering them to reduce poverty, increase their food security, improve their nutrition and strengthen their resilience. Since 1978, we have provided about US$22.4 billion in grants and low-interest loans to projects that have reached some 512 million people. IFAD is an international financial institution and a specialized United Nations agency based in Rome — the United Nations food and agriculture hub. For more information, visit:

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