Teams from Ghana, Germany, and China took top placings at a digital agriculture competition co-organized by the FAO and Zhejiang University, showcasing the abundance of youth-led innovation in the agri-food system.

The second Global Agrilnno Challenge, co-organized by the FAO and Zhejiang University with support from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of China and Pinduoduo, attracted nearly 160 teams from over 40 countries. The competition aims to promote young agricultural entrepreneurs and their innovative solutions to tackle the rural-urban digital divide. The results were announced on December 9th, 2021.

Grow For Me (GFM), a Ghana-based micro-financing provider in rural areas, took first place in the competition. EPTeck Technologies, an Internet of Things-based smart farming solution provider from Germany, placed second. A team from China, Point Grass into Gold, won third place for their sustainable idea of recycling cotton stalks.

“Youth-led innovative solutions and business models can play a critical role to unlock the potential of digitalization to end hunger and poverty,” said Mr. Khalid Bomba, Chief Innovation Officer of the FAO. “It is crucial that we encourage young people to contribute to the future of agriculture and include them in key decision-making processes as much as possible.”

Digital technologies such as the internet, mobile technologies and devices, and data analytics are changing agriculture and the food system. Yet the benefits of improved efficiency and productivity are unevenly distributed across the world, with smallholder farmers especially facing obstacles in access.

Pinduoduo has supported the Global Agrilnno Challenge since its inception, as the competition’s aim of promoting young agripreneurs is in line with its goal of encouraging more young talent to go into agriculture and lead the transformation of the sector.

As China’s largest agriculture platform, Pinduoduo has devoted substantial resources to implementing technology solutions along the agriculture supply chain. It has pledged to nurture and foster the talent needed in agricultural modernization and is unique among China’s biggest consumer internet companies in having agriculture as the backbone of its business from the start.

The company initiated the Smart Agriculture Competition, an annual precision farming contest, to bring together young talent from different disciplines to develop technology for smallholder farmers. The competition is emerging as a showcase for young agricultural talent in China, with 80% of team members in the competition finals in their 20s. The FAO and Zhejiang University are also partners of this competition.

In August, Pinduoduo announced a '10 Billion Agriculture Initiative' that will address critical needs for the agriculture and rural sectors. The Initiative strives to facilitate the advancement of agritech, promote digital inclusion, and provide agritech talents and workers with greater motivation and a sense of achievement.

“Agriculture is an industry with great potential for young people considering a future in technology and who aspire to make an impact on society,” said Andre Zhu, Senior Vice President at Pinduoduo. “We are happy to leverage our resources to provide more opportunities for young agricultural talent across the world.”