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Young agriculture innovators awarded

December 3, 2021

By Hassan Gbassay Koroma

In their effort to promote food sufficiency in the country, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Ministry of Youth Affairs, yesterday Thursday, November 2nd awarded winners of the Social Good Summit (SGS) 2021 Agriculture innovation Challenge.

 UNDP Sierra Leone, in collaboration with the Government of Sierra Leone through the Ministry of Youth Affairs and other key partners, has been organizing an innovative youth-focused Social Good Summit (SGS) that provides a platform tor creative young minds to showcase and articulate innovative ideas that can solve development challenges.

Speaking at their UNDP Office in Freetown,  UNDP Deputy Resident Representative, Sayed Sahibzada said they have come a long way in celebrating this year’s globally recognized and annually celebrated event, noting that the event is a time set aside to raise awareness and inspire global actions for achieving the SDGs by 2030.

He said in Sierra Leone, the Social Good summit is a youth focused activity celebrated annually by UNDP in collaboration with the Government of Sierra Leone through the Ministry of Youth Affairs, other UN Agencies, academia, and the private sector.

“We did not just celebrate this year’s summit like the previous years, but we aligned it with the global International Youth day theme “Transforming Food Systems: Youth innovation for Planetary Health'” and we created the platform for young people to showcase their ideas, creativity and use of technology to solve community development Challenges,” he said.

He said they keep improving on the quality and value of each year’s celebration, to ensure that they cater for various categories of their target audience in Sierra Leone.

 He said in this year’s competition, they tweaked from the usual process and made provision for persons with disabilities to apply.

He said they collaborated with the National Commission for persons with disability, national school for the blind and the national school for the deaf to develop the first ever brail version of application forms and translated key SGS events into sign language for the hearing impaired.

He said their expansion of scope from the usual process to a more inclusive one was a deliberate attempt to improve on national representation and the UNDP in collaboration with other Ministries and departments and other other key private sector partners; announced a call for applicaions from the 16th to the 30th of September 2021 and we received over 500 submissions on innovation in agriculture, assistive technology, and impact respectively.

He said their team conducted a regional screening exercise and submitted regional qualifiers to technical judges.

He said they further organized a 5-day bootcamp which was a transitional period for candidates to be coached and given tips on how to make their pitches for their final presentations.

“Ladies and gentlemen, after tigorous screening and sound judging, we are here today to give three categories of award to deserving winners in this year’s competition, he said.

He said they going to present the Assistive Technology competition award, and they will give Le20 million to the winner of the assistive technology innovation competition and Le10 million Leones to the runners up.

He said the winner of the Agriculture Innovation competition award wich have the male and female categories they will also be given Le20 million each to the male and female winners and Le20 million each.

He further stated that they would also  award their national Youth Ambassadors in the five regions including Western Area,Northern Region, North-West Region, South and Eastern Region and the title of Youth Ambassador 2021 will be conferred on them.

He said by such  annual gesture, UNDP reassures the Government of Sierra Leone that they are committed to strengthening the innovation ecosystem in Sierra Leone, noting that they  will continue to explore every means to identify sustainable and high potential impact solutions for the achievement of the sustainable development goals they are committed to.

Also speaking, the Minister of Youth Affairs, Mohamed Orman Bangura whatever the UNDP and the Ministry were doing has to be impactful on young Sierra Leoneans.

He said they wanted to use innovation to develop the country and its people and encourage the innovators to do more and be confident to compete internationally.

Speaking to Concord Times, Mariama Suma, who emerged as the female winner of the Social Good Summit 2021 Agriculture Innovation Challenge, said she pitched on food preservation.

According to her, she uses her innovation to make foo-foo dry powder and potato powder that can be preserved for a long period and also easy to cook.

She promised to use the Le20 million she won to buy machinery to develop her innovation.

Also speaking to Concord Times, Benjamin Bockarie, a student from Njala University, said he pitched the preparation of fish feed made from various materials including rice, corn grains and others that help fishes to grow well.

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