Global Innovation Challenge 2018

Develop strategies to strengthen equitable and just food systems in the Global South

CCAFS Nepal-39, CIAT, 2012, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0, Modified

May 21-25, 2018

  • learn about the life experiences and challenges of small-holder farmers
  • partner with faculty experts and international professionals
  • advance your creative problem-solving and collaboration skills
  • compete for funding to further your ideas

Smallholder farms provide at least 50% of the agricultural output for domestic consumption in most low- and middle-income countries. Smaller than two acres in size, smallholder farms account for about 70 percent of all farms. Yet, the 500+ million households that run these farms withstand the worst food insecurity, especially in the Global South. Limited access to capital, markets, land, technology, and training, as well as political stressors, gender inequities, and, more recently, climate change, amplify the vulnerability of smallholder farm families.

Historically, top-down policy efforts have been the primary strategy for addressing the challenges smallholder farmers experience. This approach neglects the complexity and localized nature of urban and regional food systems. For example, agriculture is not only found in rural areas; globally about 68,000,000 hectares, or 15.7%, of all irrigated and rain-fed cropland is in urban and peri-urban areas. Producers who farm in different contexts face different challenges.

An alternative approach is farmer-centered: learning from and building capacity among farmers in order to achieve practical and sustainable solutions to meet the consumption demands of the world’s population and the farmers themselves. Nevertheless, with an increasing policy emphasis on large-scale agricultural production, innovative strategies are needed to support and empower smallholder farmers.

The Challenge

Develop innovative strategies to cultivate food equity in the Global South – improving the health, livelihoods, and environments of smallholder farmers. 

CIAT, Bean Market 25lo, Neil Palmer, 2009, Modified


In a world of plenty, no one, not a single person, should go hungry…But almost 1 billion still do not have enough to eat. I want to see an end to hunger everywhere, within my lifetime.

– Ban Ki-moon, United Nations Secretary-General in 2012 on the “Zero Hunger Challenge”

What is the Global Innovation Challenge?

This one-week workshop is open to undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students from all majors: anthropology to architecture, English to engineering, media to management, political science to public health, sociology to social work. Participants will engage in team-building activities, and work with local stakeholders and UB faculty to develop social, technological, business, educational, and policy innovations to address significant and persistent global health challenges.

Program Materials

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