Leading Approaches to Sustainable Farming: Winners of 'Farming for Biodiversity' Contest Announced

The 2017 “Farming for Biodiversity contest by Solution Search, designed to showcase leading and innovative approaches to sustainable farming, has named Nepal’s National Disaster Risk Reduction Center as the Judge’s Choice winner and Ethiopia’s Apis Agribusiness as the People’s Choice winner.

This year’s contest focused on finding the most innovative solutions that make farming more sustainable and promote behaviors that increase biodiversity across the agricultural sector.

The winners were announced at an awards ceremony on 14th November, during the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Convention of Parties. The two winning organizations joined eight other finalists in Bonn, Germany for a two-day workshop where leaders mapped strategies to scale up and replicate their ideas across the world.

In addition to the two grand prize winners who each receive $30,000 to scale up and replicate their models, an additional four organizations were awarded $15,000 each for their specific excellence in Biodiversity Impact, Community & Social Impact, Food Security & Nutrition Impact and Water Impact.

The winners

  • Judge’s Choice Winner: National Disaster Risk Reduction Center Nepal(link is external) (Nepal) - Pollution in the Banganga River Basin was contributing to biodiversity loss, land degradation and other environmental challenges. The NDRRC Nepal worked with government and non-government stakeholders to institute a series of more sustainable practices and executed a public awareness campaign that reached more than 14,000 indigenous households.
  • People’s Choice Winner: Apis Agribusiness(link is external) (Ethiopia) - Building on the country’s strong honey sector, Apis Agribusiness established wild honey production to help employ rural youth while fighting deforestation and safeguarding the critical benefits of pollination.
  • Biodiversity Impact Winner: Fundación ECOTOP(link is external) (Bolivia) - ECOTOP is using the idea of natural succession dynamics—growing a combination of various crops and trees depending on their life cycle stage—to maximize agricultural density and diversity. By adopting this crop management system, farmers can produce high yields from a range of crops, while keeping the soil healthy and reducing pests.
  • Community & Social Impact Winner: Fariventures Worldwide(link is external) (Indonesia) - German NGO Fairventures Worldwide is working to combat the environmental and economic impact of deforestation by helping farmers institute a better land-use system focused on improving soil quality. They intend to produce fast-growing timber to generate income; grow fruits and vegetables to improve nutrition; and decrease fertilizer runoff to safeguard water sources.
  • Food Security & Nutrition Impact Winner: Desarrollo Alternativo e Investigación A.C.(link is external)  (Mexico) - Desarrollo Alternativo e Investigación A.C. led a seed dissemination process to diversify crops grown in Chiapas State, increase maize and beans yields, and boost family incomes, while creating a knowledge exchange between farmers.
  • Water Impact Winner: The Mountain Institute(link is external) (Peru) - In response to the degradation of puna habitat and declining livestock production, The Mountain Institute is connecting regional farmers with external experts to restore pre-Incan hydraulic systems with modern technology and materials to improve irrigation and strengthen communities’ institutional capacities to govern and manage natural resources.

Choosing the winners

A panel of experts from conservation, development, media, finance and other professions chose the Judge’s Choice award winner based on entrants’ proven success in implementing biodiversity-friendly approaches to farming, and the potential for scaling their solutions to achieve positive environmental, social and economic outcomes. The People’s Choice award winner was chosen through an online public vote.

Brett Jenks, CEO of Rare, the organization that founded Solution Search, said, “The Solution Search model unearths the most innovative solutions to our world’s biggest environmental challenges. What is inspiring is how innovative solutions are everywhere. Solution Search helps us find what is working and share those ides with the world.”

“In a time where we hear the challenges ahead due to climate change and unsustainable farming practices, it is encouraging to find these bright spots coming from almost every country across the world,” added André Leu, President of IFOAM – Organics International, a partner organization in Solution Search.

About Solution Search

The Solution Search contest is part of a larger initiative funded by the International Climate Initiative (IKI), a German initiative supported by The Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB). Over three years, Rare, IFOAM - Organics International, and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Secretariat have been working together to identify promising approaches. Winners host capacity-building workshops across the globe to spread their effective solutions. This workshop series, known as Campaigning for Conservation, will further empower local practitioners to raise awareness of the value of biodiversity and to conduct social marketing campaigns promoting behavior change in support of the identified solutions. All entries to this contest will become part of a larger network of stakeholders engaged in supporting biodiversity-friendly agriculture.

Partners and judges represent organizations including: Rare, the Global Environment Facility, Convention on Biological Diversity Secretariat, Patagonia, Save the Children, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, IFOAM - Organics International, Deutsche Welle, Inter-American Development Bank, Stockholm Resilience Center, EcoAgriculture Partners, The International Indigenous Peoples’ Forum on Climate Change and the United Nations Indigenous Peoples Rapporteur, CONABIO (Mexico), Panorama, World Wildlife Fund, Blue Solutions, Global Island Partnership, Food Tank, and Young Professionals for Agricultural Development.