22 Sep 2015


Innovative solutions to food paradoxes from young researchers: “Young people want to be the key players in life change in their countries”.

The winners of the 4th BcfnYes! competition organized by the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition Foundation for young students and university researchers with an interest in food sustainability issues received their awards in Parma today. The projects are Analog Forestry, to enable local communities in cultivate crops without endangering the Amazonian rainforest; Eco-Sustainable Gardens, to make women in northern Cameroon self- sufficient by teaching them how to cultivate their land in an effective manner. For the first time in the history of BCFNYes! there were two winners, both receiving a prize of 10,000 Euros to fund their project.

“There were a large number of entries for BCFNYes! 2015 from all over the world. And we were pleased to see an increase in the number female participants: 70% this year! The winning projects are the work of two bright female researchers – explained Luca Virginio, Vice President of BCFN Foundation – We have been receiving growing numbers of projects from developing countries. This is a positive sign and indicates how young people in these countries no longer want subsidies, but want to be the key players in improving the future of their country”.

Analog Forestry is a way of making farming and the rainforest co-exist. It allows local communities to cultivate for their own needs and for trade without endangering the forest but integrating with it effectively. The project, which is particularly designed for the Amazonian rainforest, will be launched in the Peruvian region of Madre de Dios and involves both Italian researchers and the local Peruvian population. “It is a method of cultivation that respects the ecological structure of the rainforest, which as we know develops upwards - explained Francesca Recanati, a doctoral student at the Polytechnic of Milan who co-authored the project – The system protects the layers of vegetation that host the oldest species and allows native fruit and medicinal plants to be cultivated in the other layers”.

Eco-Sustainable Gardens: Empowering Minority Women. A project for the female community of the semi-nomadic Mbororo tribe in northern Cameroon. “During the dry season, the women remain alone because the men go in search of pasture for their livestock – said Nadia Ndum Foy (Cameroon) and Okon Archibong Ukeme (Nigeria), from the University of Hohenheim – Without livestock, women and children have no form of support or income. Our idea is to teach women to cultivate their own land by creating vegetable gardens and grow food for themselves and their children, and products such as chili to sell in local markets”. The cultivation method has been designed specifically for the hilly conditions of the area where the Mbororo tribe lives.

The winning projects were selected from among 10 finalists which, in the year of Expo 2015, focused on the issue of the sovereignty of food with projects by researchers arriving from all over the world such as Nigeria, Cameroon, Indonesia, Nepal, Poland, France, United States and Italy.

The many original ideas ranged from booking French university cafeteria to avoid wasting food, high-protein snacks for Nigerian children, a website to help the disabled eat healthy food, to a natural cold chain without refrigerators in Nepal through terracotta warehouses.

The projects for the 4th BCFN YES! focused on practical issues, situations that people encounter in their everyday lives. A sign that young people are trying to change things by starting from the bottom and the practical things in daily life.

The young competition participants also contributed to the Youth Manifesto that will be presented tomorrow, 23 September at Expo Milano 2015. This document, drafted by young researchers from across the globe, is a strong call to world leaders that the need to address the great food paradoxes cannot be delayed. It proposes concrete action for the decision makers, farmers, activists, educators, food industry, journalists and researchers of the future and will be added to the Milan Charter to be delivered to the UN.
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