Transformative Research Challenge Winners Announced
The second day of the five-day WFF Flagship event was devoted to innovation, and began with young researchers pitching their projects at the Transformative Research Challenge (TRC) Finals. The TRC event was the culmination of an international open call for innovative research ideas across the categories of Better Production, Better Nutrition, a Better Environment, and a Better Life. Three winners were chosen, as well as a special prize for the team that best reflected the theme of the year “Healthy Diets. Healthy Planets.”
For the first time, following a tough deliberation, the TRC jury decided to award two of the finalists as first place co-winners:
- “ZERO TO HERO: Zero Food Waste and Loss through Empowering Mothers’ Champions as the HERO,” by Annisa Fajriani, Davrina Rianda, Dyana Sari and Deviana Siregar with mentorship from Dimas Muhammad
- “Olive tea: the Mediterranean matcha? Assessing the sustainability of traditional Mediterranean medicine,” by Sofia Cavalleri and Dr. Mauro Agnoletti with mentorship from Sumantra Ray
Following the co-winners closely, was the third place team:
- “Providing a cost-effective, quick, and portable pesticide residue tester to Tanzanian low- and middle-class tomato consumers and small-scale growers,” by Shadrack Stephene and Goodluck Muhehe with mentorship from Laura Hackl
The winner of the “Healthy Diest. Healthy Planets.” special prize was:
- “Transforming Nutritional Practices and Livelihoods Through Improved Fish Farming in Pakistan” by Sidra Khalid and Najeeb with mentorship from Wilkes-Allemann Jerylee
From an initial TRC applicant pool of 162 teams, 20 teams were chosen to be paired with mentors who helped them produce, refine and sharpen their research outputs. From those research outputs, 10 finalists received speech coaching in an exclusive speaking bootcamp hosted by Untold and FAO Toastmasters, then pitched their ideas on stage to a panel of judges.
The judges included the Chief Economist of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Dr. Máximo Torero; FAO Chief Scientist Dr. Ismahane Elouafi; Professor Parfait M. Eloundou-Enyegue, Professor in the Department of Global Development at the University of Cornell; Professor Xu Xiuli, Leading Professor of International Development Cooperation, Dean of the College of International Development and Global Agriculture (CIDGA) at China Agricultural University; and Dr. Saul S. Morris, Director, Programme Services Team at the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN). The jury panel was joined by last year’s TRC winner Nafn Amdar, Research Officer at the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), Ph.D, who acted as a special advisor.
“We live in a very complex world today. We expect to see motivation coming from the youth that will help us to create the transformation that we are looking for,” said Dr. Torero.
“What we need is innovation to get out of the woods. Right now, the challenges are huge, and we all need to speed up our international development and solutions,” remarked Dr. Elouafi.
The winners of the TRC receive an award certificate, publicity through WFF and its partners media channel including a profile that will be published on the FAO academic partnership website, and a recognition campaign on all WFF Social Media handles and the WFF website. They also receive a personalized video of their research pitch and journey within the TRC, as well as a publication of their research findings in one of FAO’s sectoral publications.
The Transformative Research Challenge Finals will be made available to view on the WFF website and on the WFF YouTube channel.