Innovators to get support with the launch of the Blue-Green Digital Innovation Challenge
Grenadian Innovators in the Agro-processing and Agro-tourism sectors, can look forward to a boost in investment opportunities as the Government of Grenada with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean, launched the Blue-Green Digital Innovation Challenge on May 18, 2023. This digital challenge and call for proposals will award grant funding to Micro, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (MSMEs) across the tri-island state with up to a maximum of US $30,000 to implement an innovative and/or digital solution into their operation.
The initiative falls under the scope of the GEF-funded Climate Resilience Agriculture Project, which is designed to improve the resilience of agricultural systems. Known for its work with grassroot innovators, the UNDP Accelerator Lab in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean is also playing a critical role in supporting the Blue-Green Digital Innovation Challenge. There is a need for greater innovation in the sector at a community level and the call for proposals seeks to support local innovators that have great ideas but may not have the required funding or technical know-how to implement.
While entrepreneurs and MSMEs in agro-processing and agro-tourism spaces are invited to apply, individuals and entities within the IT and digital space are also encouraged to submit their ideas for digital solutions that can be applied to agriculture-based operations.
Speaking at the launch, Ministry of Agriculture Permanent Secretary, Mr. Aaron Francois expressed his support for the project adding that, “it provides the opportunity for persons in the IT field to marry their expertise with entrepreneurs in the agriculture sector to find innovative solutions to some of the challenges they face”. His sentiments were mirrored by the Minister of State for the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, Fisheries & Cooperatives, Sen. the Hon. Adrian Thomas in his feature address where he expressed the expectations of the benefits to those working in the agriculture and food security sector, stating, ” We expect that our stakeholders and beneficiaries…will benefit significantly from this challenge fund, not just through the grants that will be provided but also with the substantial support that will be provided to ensure that initial ideas are fully evolved into practical and critical actions that you can implement to strengthen and grow your businesses”.
Additionally, Dr. Mohammad Nagdee, UNDP Cluster Head for Sustainable Solutions, Energy and Climate Change, went on to laud the potential of Grenada’s diverse agricultural sectors, from nutmeg to cocoa beans. “These sectors have the potential to do three things. Firstly, sustain Grenada’s economy for generations to come. Secondly, to ensure environmental sustainability and finally, to promote food security. These are three critical components to where the agricultural sector, the agro-processors and the agro-tourism industry really have an important role to play in Grenada’s economy.”
Leading the capacity building arm of the project, Fabrizio Bresciani – Senior Technical Officer for the Office of Innovation at the FAO expressed the organisation’s desire to accelerate the digital transformation of agrifood systems while increasing productivity, managing and mitigating climate risks, and diversifying rural economies in a sustainable economic, social, and environmental manner. “The invaluable support provided by the UNDP in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean underscores the importance of multi-agency efforts to drive innovation and sustainable practices in the agricultural sector” stated Fabrizio Bresciani adding, “Through this event, we aim to empower and enhance the capacities of innovators, specifically focusing on women and youth, enabling their valuable contributions towards the development and strengthening of FAO’s digital agriculture innovation hub in the country.
While all ideas may not meet the criteria for funding, the technical support and concept development will help every individual that participates. The deadline for submission is June 19, 2023, and interested persons are asked to visit bit.ly/InnovateAgri for additional information on the process. To further facilitate the application process, an informational webinar will be hosted on June 1, 2023, to assist participants with the initial conception of idea, proposal submission as well as address any questions persons may have. As climate change effects are being seen more in the region, it is vital that developmental efforts continue to reinforce the need for regional resilience, building forward better build and bolstering livelihoods for traditionally vulnerable groups. UNDP Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, in partnership with governments and stakeholders, remains dedicated to the advancement of inclusive and sustainable development throughout the region. This intervention is part of the work of UNDP Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean in its commitment to promoting economic diversification, job creation and resilience with the “Blue Economy for Green Islands” vision.
UNDP is the leading United Nations organisation fighting to end the injustice of poverty, inequality and climate change. Working with our broad network of experts and partners in 170 countries, we help nations to build integrated lasting solutions for people and planet. Learn more at www.bb.undp.org or follow at @UNDPBarbadosEC