Nominations are now open for the 2019 MAIZE Youth Innovators Awards – Africa! These awards are part of the efforts that the CGIAR Research Program on Maize (MAIZE) is undertaking to promote youth participation in maize-based agri-food systems. These awards recognize the contributions of young women and men below 35 years of age who are implementing innovations in African maize-based agri-food systems, including research for development, seed systems, agribusiness, and sustainable intensification.
Young people are the key to ensuring a food-secure future and agricultural sustainability. However, rural youth face many challenges related to unemployment, underemployment and poverty. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, facilitating young people’s participation in agriculture has the potential to drive widespread rural poverty reduction among young people and adults alike. In Africa, where over 300 million smallholder-farming families grow and consume maize as a staple crop, the human population stands at 1.2 billion people, 60 percent of whom are below the age of 25.
The MAIZE Youth Innovators Awards aim to identify young innovators who can serve to inspire other young people to get involved in maize-based agri-food systems. Part of the vision is to create a global network of young innovators in maize-based systems from around the world.
Award recipients will be invited to attend the annual Stress Tolerant Maize for Africa (STMA) project meeting in Lusaka, Zambia, from May 7 to May 9, where they will receive their awards and will be given the opportunity to present their work. The project meeting and award ceremony will also allow these young innovators to network and exchange experiences with MAIZE researchers and partners. Award recipients may also get the opportunity to collaborate with MAIZE and its partner scientists in Africa on implementing or furthering their innovations.
MAIZE invites young innovators to apply and CGIAR researchers and partners to nominate eligible applicants for any of the following three categories:
Researcher: Maize research for development (in any discipline)
Farmer: Maize farming systems in Africa
Change agent: Maize value chains (i.e., extension agents, input and service suppliers, transformation agents, etc.)
We ask nominators/applicants to take into account the following criteria and related questions:
Novelty and innovative spirit: To which specific novel findings or innovation(s) has this young person contributed? (in any of the three categories mentioned above)
Present or potential impact: What is the present or potential benefit or impact of the innovation(s) in maize-based agri-food systems?