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Discover the winning ideas of the BELLA II Ideathon on the Innovation of Agrifood Systems

Discover the winning ideas of the BELLA II Ideathon on the Innovation of Agrifood Systems

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Eight days of intense work, 126 participants divided,12 working groups, 28 countries represented, 10 concept notes generated, and three winning "seeds" prepared for harvesting  more efficient, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable agrifood systems in the region. Theseare the main results achieved in the second edition of the BELLA II Ideathon, which focused on the “Innovation in Agri-food Systems in Central America and the Caribbean".

The Ideathon took place in virtual mode from 29 February to 11 March, and was organized by RedCLARA, the BELLA II project and the European Union, with the support of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the German Technical Cooperation (GIZ), the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), the regional academic blockchain network, LACNet, the advanced pan-European network, GÉANT, and the European Space Agency (ESA).

"The ideathons organized by RedCLARA in the framework of BELLA II are very relevant  because they boost the use of technologies for economic and social development. This is the second of many more Ideatón that will guide us in the use of digital technologies for the common good" said RedCLARA's Executive Director, Luis Eliécer Cadenas.

GËANT's Head of International Relations, Tom Fryer, added that the proposals presented were a sample of the region´s great capacity to develop impactful solutions. "The concept notes were of a high standard and very ambitious. While we as a human race are the cause of many of the problems we face, we also have the capacity to work together to solve them and significantly improve  our agri-food systems".

The three winning ideas of the challenge were presented at the closing ceremony held on March 11, and the announcement was made by the founder of the Central American Aerospace Network and representative of the event's jury, Maria José Molina. "Our work was hard because the proposals were very good and innovative. In addition, in general, they were well aligned with the Ideathon's focus, namely the European Green Pact and the gender gap", said the expert. The big winner of the BELLA Ideathon was Group 12, creator of "AgroIN4: INclusive and Smart INtegration of Industry 4.0 for the Sustainable Agri-Food sector in Central America and the Caribbean". The project envisages the integration of Industry 4.0 technologies to create a knowledge management system, as a platform, to revolutionize the agricultural landscape, improving data collection, precision agriculture,, and resilience to the effectsof climate change while being educational and enabling the empowerment of rural women.

The group was formed by Iván Armuelles Voinov (Panama), Johansell Villalobos Cubillo and Jazmín Calderón Quiróz (Costa Rica), Jaime Centellas (USA), Gabriel Barrientos (Guatemala) and Dianna Castillo García and Jesús Mariano Cahuana Aguilar (Peru). On behalf of the winning team, Iván Armuelles said: "We are very grateful to the jury and the Ideathon organizers for the quality of the event. All the notes generated were of a high level, which makes us even happier about this achievement.. We are also very happy to have achieved a great collaboration with a very heterogeneous team in terms of gender and nationality". The winning group received two tickets (including flights and accomodation) to participate in a theme-related event, where they will present the concept note.

The second prize was awarded to Group 10, which presented "Research and monitoring centers focused on the generation of technological strategies to strengthen resilient livelihoods of farming families in the Dry Corridor of Central America and the Caribbean with a focus on nalnutrition and food security." Specifically, the idea is to set up monitoring centers in the Central American Dry Corridor, using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) with in-situ sensors and data transmission focused on food biosecurity. These monitoring centers would not only focus on collecting data on agricultural production but should also focus on aspects related to food security and crop health such as soil quality, nutrient levels, the presence of pests and diseases,and the availability and quality of irrigation water. This would enable farmers to make informed decisions and anticipate possible threats or crises that could affect their crops and food security.

In third place was Group 5, with the proposal "Interconnection of the agro-industrial ecosystem with integral solutions Platform or Observatory: Collaborative Planet Health (OSPC) for the Central American Dry Corridor, through technology, triple impact and regenerative economy".  The idea of the OSPC is to be a space where all the actors of the agrotech innovation ecosystem interact, using the components of IoT, Big Data, Copernicus, and other technologies in the automation and optimization of agricultural production, responsible water consumption, with gender inclusion and under the guidelines of the European Green Pact for better health and quality of life of people.

The second place winner will receive five consultations or mentorships to support the progress of the concept note and the third-place winner will receive training in relevant topics to support capacity building for the further development of the concept note.. As additional prizes, the first and second-place winning groups will be able to continue working on their ideas in the next BELLA II Hackathon, and all groups will have the opportunity to participate and be included in the "Digital Agenda 2024", a tool to be jointly developed by the Ideathon organizing committee, which will seek to give immediate action to the ideas and enable the articulation with relevant actors to make them a reality.

Accoding to GIZ technical advisor Leonel Tapia, this is the big challenge from now on. "The ideas were excellent, but there are many like them that come and go. Based on this reflection, we thought about the importance of scaling them up and giving them public value. The organizing committee will map the concept notes, which will allow us to identify cross-cutting areas of work and solutions to be implemented with potential for scaling. This will allow us to create a development agenda that is sustainable over time, which we call the Digital Agenda 2024", concluded Tapia.

The full recording of the BELLA II Ideathon’s closing ceremony is now available on RedCLARA’s YouTube channel. To view it please visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vu3qGoFHO7U

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

BELLA II receives funding from the European Union through the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI), under agreement number 438-964 with DG-INTPA, signed in December 2022. The implementation period of BELLA II is 48 months.

Contact

For more information about BELLA II please contact:

redclara_comunica@redclara.net

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