Regenerative Agriculture Venture Programme Witnesses Diversity and Innovation

Regenerative Agriculture Venture Programme Witnesses Diversity and Innovation

The initiative attracted 158 registrations from over 18 countries across the Middle East, North Africa, and Turkey (MENAT) region and beyond

The Regenerative Agriculture Venture Programme (RAVP), an initiative spearheaded by Goumbook in partnership with HSBC Bank Middle East Limited, Saudi Awwal Bank (SAB), and supported by the European Institute of Technology Food (EIT Food), has reached a significant milestone in its inaugural year.

The initiative attracted 158 registrations from over 18 countries across the Middle East, North Africa, and Turkey (MENAT) region and beyond.

These registrations, submitted by researchers, students, and entrepreneurs, underscore a pressing need to support regional innovators in addressing food security threats, agricultural challenges, and climate change issues.

A unique initiative in the MENAT region, the Regenerative Agriculture Venture Programme focuses on early-stage research and nature-based solutions integrating regenerative agriculture practices. These solutions aim to be scalable and accessible, particularly to small and medium farmholders who represent 60-80% of the current agricultural landscape.

The programme aims to empower and upskill researchers, students and entrepreneurs who are addressing fundamental agricultural challenges in the MENAT region.

These regenerative agriculture solutions address various issues, including soil health, food security, water scarcity, biodiversity loss, climate change mitigation and adaptation, carbon sequestration, combating salinity and desertification, enhancing yields and nutrition, promoting crop resilience, utilising natural fertilisers and pest control, and benefiting social welfare.

The overwhelming response, marked by high-calibre submissions from top research institutes and independent applicants alike, reflects a collective ambition to tackle agricultural and climate change challenges unique to the MENAT region.

Submissions were received from 18 countries, with Saudi Arabia and Egypt each contributing 24%, while the UAE represented 19% of the applications received, Turkey 10%, and Morocco and Algeria 5% each. The demographic breakdown demonstrates balanced gender participation, with 43% female and 57% male applicants, showcasing a diverse and inclusive representation.

Following the verification process, applicants engaged in a virtual boot camp, collaborating with experts, mentors, and entrepreneurs to explore regenerative agriculture's potential from environmental, social, and economic perspectives.

The boot camp sessions covered ideation, transforming research proposals into business pitch decks, and exploring funding mechanisms to support regenerative agriculture solutions.

Samantha Kayruz, Goumbook's Strategy & Sustainability Impact Director, stated: "The Regenerative Agriculture Venture Programme has emerged as a critical platform for supporting early-stage regional research innovation efforts to combat agricultural challenges and opportunities in the MENAT region.

"The diversity and calibre of the applicants are a testament to the fundamental need and collaborative effort required to address our region's pressing environmental and social challenges."

Kayruz emphasised Goumbook’s commitment to empowering the region’s researchers, scientists, students, and entrepreneurs, supporting their research, science, and nature-based early-stage solutions.

She called on stakeholders across various sectors to support the realisation of their vision, capacity and capabilities building, and helping them scale for impact. She further highlighted the importance of reducing the reliance on importing food systems innovation and research; incubating and supporting our regional research and development effort, in its capacity to address greater food security, while also tackling the distinctive regional challenges, and opportunities.

“We are equally passionate about developing an awareness and movement around regenerative agriculture for the MENAT region, and helping to define its regionally adapted practices and environmental, social and economic benefits that this regenerative agriculture offers,” she added.

The semi-finalists were selected based on their capacity to address agricultural challenges, food security, and climate change within the MENAT region.

Their projects cover a wide range of innovations, including new methods to improve soil health, applications of circularity within agriculture waste, enhancing crop and climate resilient varieties, reducing reliance of synthetic chemicals, tackling salinity and water scarcity, to cutting-edge technological innovations.

The top 21 semi-finalists submitted their initial business pitch decks for evaluation by a panel of experts. The next phase will equip the top 10 finalists with skills in entrepreneurship, intellectual property protection, pitching, and investment strategies to further develop their solutions commercially.

Additionally, Goumbook’s Regenerative Agriculture Programme has announced the esteemed Judge Evaluation Committee for its inaugural year. This committee, composed of diverse regional and international subject matter experts, will assess semi-finalists’ solutions and select the top 10 finalists.

As the finalists progress, they will showcase their solutions to a panel of judges, competing for the opportunity to secure one of three $10,000 awards with further support and potential funding available to them, subject to their solutions needs requirements.

The winners will collaborate with local farmers to integrate their innovative concepts into real-world agricultural practices. They will also be able to access supporting stakeholder community calling on public institutions, private entities and NGOs to further facilitate their journey towards meaningful impact.

Sustainability Middle East News