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These Youth Could Make Agribusiness Greener – Highlights of the LKDF Hackathon 2021

October 6, 2021

Young people play a decisive role in the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at all levels. The Agenda states that “children and young women and men are critical agents of change and will find in the new Goals a platform to channel their infinite capacities for activism into the creation of a better world”. Promoting the ideas and solutions of the youth is, therefore, crucial for a more sustainable future and a principle that the Learning and Knowledge Development Facility (LKDF) is devoted to endorsing.

On 20, 23, and 24 September 2021, UNIDO’s LKDF took concrete steps and gathered young people in a virtual hackathon to answer a complex problem: how can we make supply chain management in agribusiness greener? In collaboration with the European Training Foundation and WorldSkills International, six teams of young professionals developed tangible solutions on how agribusiness can generate less waste, carbon emissions, and reduce energy consumption. Each team had the support of experienced mentors throughout their journey.

The Solutions

  • Team 1, “OpenFoodScape”: a mobile application for food suppliers, citizens, restaurants, and farmers that allows users to find and see other foodscapes in big cities, improving sustainable and healthy food security.
  • Team 2, “EZ-Eat”: an automated aquaponic food production system that cultivate fish and organic vegetables for market chains and groceries. It combines container farming, greenhouse and aquaponic systems which farmers could control with their smartphone.
  • Team 3, “Agri+”: a mobile application for farmers that provides information about sustainable agricultural farming and offers a virtual marketplace that helps the matchmaking between the farmers and the demand.
  • Team 4, “Me2You”: an online platform to connect four different stakeholders in a local food supply chain: producers, restaurants, charity institutions, and final consumers.
  • Team 5, “SENTS”: a mobile application to tackle the problem of polluted water and excessive use of chemical fertilizers by the design of small-scale treatment facilities (i.e. ponds) in farms.
  • Team 6, “Suntastic”: an online platform for consumers, agricultural resources users, the textile industry, communities, and governments that tackles the pollution of groundwater and soil by recycling textile waste and rewards the users via points and products.

 

The Winners

Four judges were invited to evaluate the groups’ solutions based on four different criteria: innovation, “coolness”, impact, and feasibility. The judges were Dejene Tezera, Director of the Department of Agribusiness at UNIDO; Kristien van den Eynde, Specialist in Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Skills, Policy and Public Outreach Department at the European Training Foundation; Matias Matias, Senior Manager, WW Business Development, Education and Advisory Member for HP Foundation, HP Life Program, HP Inc; and Henrik Gundelach, Researcher at the Centre for Business and Development Studies at the Copenhagen Business School.

The winning team of the LKDF Hackathon was “EZ-Eat”. The team proposed to tackle the problem of low-quality produce of vegetables and fish and limited access to clean water supply with an automated food production system combining container farming, greenhouse and aquaponic systems.

The team was composed of Khairi Azim, from Malaysia, Erica Lee, from Hong Kong, and Gunay Allahverdiyeva, from Azerbaijan. The group was mentored by Osman Malik Atanur, PhD, who has more than 20 years of professional experience in applied science and technology, R&D, and in the management of international projects as well as advising clean-tech start-ups and SMEs. He was also National Programme Manager (NPM) of Global Cleantech Innovation (GCIP) Programme, a virtual cleantech base accelerator programme implemented by UNIDO with the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

 

Khairi Azim, part of the 1st winning team of the LKDF Hackathon 2021.

 

“This was an excellent event where I could meet experts with multiple backgrounds to exchange ideas and views”, said Khairi Azim, the 23-year-old student of Electrical Power Engineering from Kuala Lumpur.

Azim says that one of his professional goals is to bring the agricultural sector closer to sustainability and the Industry 4.0. Planning to further develop the team’s solution into a concrete project, the Malaysian student highlights that the LKDF Hackathon was an opportunity to exercise teamwork, critical thinking, and problem solving.

The winning team’s mentor, Osman Malik Atanur, guided the young participants in the development of the solution and emphasized the team’s great efforts while working together and sharing responsibilities. “This was an amazing experience for me to be a witness of their devotion and motivation! Personally, I have been using similar approaches at this sort of activities and mostly familiar to the literature and approaches about ideation and business development processes, but this event also provided to see the picture from a different perspective as well. So, it was also quite instructive for me”, said Atanur.

 

“EZ-Eat” team, 1st winning team of the LKDF Hackathon.

 

The second winning team of the event was Team 6, “Suntastic”. Participants were Suraj Kumar, Khadija Hassan, and Naimur Rashid Maher. They were mentored by Ömer Levent Gökçe.

Naimur Rashid Maher, a 22-year-old student from Bangladesh who is finishing his studies in Business Technology Management at Red River College, Canada, also plans to bring his team’s idea to life. “After my graduation this December 2021, I will contact and find stakeholders who are passionate and interested. I deeply believe that by following and planning small steps I can achieve this goal.”

Naimur Rashid Maher, part of the 2nd winning team of the LKDF Hackathon 2021.

 

“Suntastic”, 2nd winning team of the LKDF Hackathon.

 

“Me2You” was the third winning team of the LKDF Hackathon. Members of the group were Douglas Maia, Cixin Ma, and Natalia Vasileva. The group was mentored by Mustafa Oz.

“Me2You”, 3rd winning team of the LKDF Hackathon.

 

Click here to watch the full live stream of all groups’ pitches and the award ceremony.