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Is bio-economy an alternative for young people to regain interest in agriculture?

The last event of the celebration of the 45th anniversary of CIAT was the so-called World Cafe, where participants were asked the question: Is bio-economy an alternative for young people to regain interest in agriculture?

This event was organized in a team between the ALCUE-KBBE project and the chapter for Latin America and the Caribbean of the Young Professionals Platform for Agricultural Research for Development (YPARD).

The main objective of the ALCUE-KBBE project is to establish a platform between Latin America and the Caribbean and the European Union to join regional and continental organizations involved in the funding and implementation of research, which would serve as a basis for establishing an environment of enabling policies and institutions, as well as the development and consolidation of bioeconomy in both regions.

90 minutes speaking about bioeconomy

A total of 35 young professionals and researchers from the Research Area in Decision and Policy Analysis of CIAT, of the Initiative for Capacity Strengthening and Knowledge Management of CIAT, and of the Center for International Cooperation in Agricultural Research for Development (CIRAD) participated in this workshop for one hour and a half.

This event had the double aim of raising awareness of the ALCUE-KBBE project and the YPARD-LAC platform and of creating a space to learn the perceptions of young professionals on bioeconomy, its importance and its relationship with agricultural research for development.

The day began with a presentation on what YPARD-LAC is and what it can offer young professionals, emphasizing the information resources available on the website and via e-newsletters.

In his turn, Guy Henry, project coordinator of ALCUE-KBBE, an agricultural economist linked to CIRAD and expert in the issue of bioeconomy, presented the project and gave an overview of the results and impacts expected in relation to this topic.

This World Cafe was designed to answer two key questions:

  • Which one of these concepts is the most interesting for you and your work, and why? Bioeconomy, green economy, eco-efficiency, or climate-smart agriculture.
  • Could these concepts be opportunities for young professionals and/or researchers to regain interest in agricultural research for development? Why?


Attendees sought flexibility and indicated that they preferred to take advantage of the presence of Guy Henry, in order to start with the basics: to better understand the concept of bioeconomy and what its application to the Colombian reality requires.

Bioeconomy is understood as the sustainable production and conversion of biomass into a range of food, medicinal, chemical, industrial and energy products, and is also seen as a valuable opportunity to respond to current challenges: feeding a growing world population, protecting natural resources, finding alternative sources of energy (before running out of oil) and mitigating climate change.

For Latin America, 6 paths to implement bioeconomy have been identified: biotechnology, biodiversity, ecological intensification, bioenergy, environmental services and the efficiency of value chains.

And young people asked…

An excerpt from the most relevant questions is presented below:

  • Does bioeconomy go hand in hand with the construction of public policies?

Answer: It is important to take into account that the implementation of bioeconomy depends on the priorities and conditions of each country. There are a few examples of countries where the application of this concept is taking off at national level, with effort and investment: The Netherlands: a platform made up of academics, decision makers and the private sector is being created, in order to set up, through incentives and laws, a bioeconomy strategy for the chains. Germany: where there is a national bioeconomy council which also combines the efforts of the public and private sectors, and of the academia. In case of Colombia, it would be strategic to take the concept of bioeconomy up to the high spheres of decision makers.

  • How to improve the efficiency of supply chains to reduce waste generation?

A: It is vital to focus on education, so that all countries, developed and developing, implement best practices both in the management of post-harvest waste, as well as in food waste.

  • One of the engines for development is mining, what is the perspective of bioeconomy regarding this activity in Colombia?

A: The concept of bioeconomy allows not to consider the relationship between an activity such as mining and the environment as a dichotomy. This means not thinking about exploiting natural resources and being more oriented towards managing them through bioeconomic practices and models.

Have a look at more pictures of the event.

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Saturday, 13 April 2024

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