03/10/2021 Bangkok, Thailand

During “Innovation Day” of the World Food Forum 2021, participants awarded FeastSaver with the Peoples’ Choice Award for the ongoing Asia and Pacific Innovation Challenge.

As part of the virtual event, FAO Country Offices in the Asia-Pacific region provided brief presentations on their innovation challenges: in the Philippines, it is the traceability of goods from the source to the distributor, something which harms reliability and safety, while in Cambodia, it is the lack of affordable transport from farmers to buyers that poses a challenge by compromising the quality of produce and the profits of the farmers, and in Mongolia, it is the lack of access of consumers to farmers for direct purchase, which again leaves them vulnerable to exploitation.

The four semi-finalists of the Peoples’ Choice Award, AgroDigital PHFeastSaverKoltiva, and Two Hands, presented their innovative ideas that leverage technology and have the potential to address these issues in a much more streamlined and direct manner – the ongoing challenge is to ensure that opportunities for innovation and technology are accessible to all and enable inclusive solutions to be found for sustainable agriculture and food security. The ‘Peoples’ Choice’ voting was undertaken by each of the fifty-plus virtual participants, with one vote counted per person logged in.

In parallel to the Peoples’ Choice Award, FAO’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (in collaboration with tandemic) is holding the Regional Innovation Challenge. This initiative sources solutions to challenges that FAO Country Offices are already working on, from startups and SMEs from across the region, and supports them in adapting these solutions for new contexts. Many of the challenges involve innovations and hackathons that will focus on the development of ideas. However, since Asia, in particular, is already very advanced in the technology/innovation sector, this innovation challenge centres on helping startups and entrepreneurs take innovative and pro-social solutions to markets in collaboration with FAO country offices and local partners. The programme is designed to generate follow-through and implementation.

As both innovation and private sector partnerships become more central in FAO’s strategy, the Innovation Challenge helps identify a wide array of locally appropriate innovators that complement FAO Country Office portfolios. Each participating office will choose one innovator to follow through with on their solution, and this will also enhance capabilities for engaging with innovative initiatives in the private sector going forward.

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