Innovations

UN Sustainable Development Goal

9
Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

Business

Argentina

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  • Aleandra Scafati
    Aleandra Scafati Bioconexion, is an exemplary project of changing reality in a simple and innovative way. Is project to be proud of. The founder, Juan, is an entrepreneur, committed enough to change his life completely in order to make his dream, and the dreams of others┬┤, work.
    October 13, 2016 - 3 like this
  • Kathleen Forrest
    Kathleen Forrest In leading this innovation J. Gerardi offered us a model of what it takes as a leader of such an innovation. There are many situations in the world that require our attention. What prevents us from doing something about them? As we read about J. Gerardi you...  more
    October 13, 2016 - 2 like this
  • Gautam Ahuja
    Gautam Ahuja amazing read
    October 17, 2016 - 3 like this
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Exemplar recognition

Uniting People Through Land

Date published: 13 Oct 2016
Jujuy, Argentina     7 likes   6

Overview

  1. Stimulates the biodiversity of the region by promoting the cultivation of native products revaluing the local culture.
  2. BIOCONEXIÓN trains producers and former producers in the agro-ecological sowing.
  3. Promotes crop rotation avoiding the wear of soils.
  4. Generates added value to their products (blends, chutneys, marinades).
  5. Avoids food waste dehydrating with solar collectors  the mature production not sold.
  6. Encourages producers to share resources between them.
  7. Proposes the possibility of a fairer price for their products.
  8. Organizes the collection of products that grow naturally (blackberries, herbs aromatic, among others), generating an additional source of income.
  9. Sensitizes producers and consumers on nutritional qualities from crops they produce.
  10. Encourages self-consumption as a way to complete a healthy, nutritious and adequate way of living.
  11. Promotes sustainable production and consumption in social networks and distinguished food fairs all over the country.

 

innovation photo

Innovation

  • The innovation of BIOCONEXIÓN is the meticulous work of empowering people - producers and consumers - through different tools but perhaps synthesized in "COMMITTED SEEDING". All these people know from facts and concrete real experiences the value of the role of each one of them to reduce hunger, maintain biodiversity and generate decent work; be part of the same story , which makes it  a turning point in the traditional consumption.
  • COMMITTED SEEDING consists in consumers buying according to planting schedules instead of buying directly from the crops. They don't buy kilos of fruits, tubers or grains; they rent feet of land instead. 
  • This system generates a  direct relationship between producer and consumer. It allows a producer to decrease the risk of relying on market demand with the product already harvested, at the same time to meet the real needs of the sector, culinary trends and culinary techniques among others. 
  • Simultaneously, it enables the consumer (today recognized chefs) to know the land original products, its history, methods of preparation,  understanding the importance of seasonality and biodiversity, risk sharing, understand the difficulties of the production process and value the work behind every product. Thus COMMITTED SEEDING manages to connect the consumer with the land and the producer with the end of the value chain.
  • In words of its founder: "Do you want to know who sows and how he does it? Do you want to see it? Do you want to taste it? Do you want to know the hands of the person that sows? Would you like to pay the same for a kilo of tomatoes as for a kilo of eggplant? Committed Seeds is that, rent feet of land instead of buying kilos of fruit."

Overall impact

In the province of Jujuy, and the northwest region of Argentina, many families of small communities used to have productive land in their hands for generations; however, as a result of the industrial agricultural impact, they abandoned productive activity, ancestral cultures, and traditional practices. Consequently, they migrated to agricultural production patterns with pesticides without adequate training and getting ridiculously low prices for their products. As a result of this, many families were left in poverty, and most of them migrated to the cities.

BIOCONEXIÓN proposes the possibility of a fairer price for their products, bringing producers and consumers in a "virtuous" circle through the "COMMITTED SEEDING" achieving local employment and decent work for most of the families. 

The other proposal of BIOCONEXIÓN is the membership model that also involves a commitment to responsible sowing and conscious consumption as a great impact communication tool. During the year and every 4 months, consumers who acquire a membership receive a box with 20 custom and seasonal products, ensuring crop rotation, thereby contributing to the maintenance of biodiversity in response to industrial agriculture.

BIOCONEXIÓN provides information to local farmers trying to resume agricultural work with environmental and social commitment. It uses sustainable practices such as dehydration of their products with solar collectors, avoiding food waste. They dehydrate bananas, mangos, papayas, pears, and peaches among others. An example of this are the small bananas from the top of the plant, which have no commercial value, BIOCONEXIÓN uses and sells them through dehydration.

They also generate “added value” by using the ripe fruits and vegetables to prepare chutneys and marinades. They are also working with citric salts, fours, and distillates. 

These products became gastronomic trends promoting and attracting prestigious Argentine and International chefs and restaurants. More than 18 prestigious chefs in Argentina use BIOCONEXIÓN products. Involving stakeholders and link consumers with small producers is an effective way to produce safer food and sustainable agricultural practices.

Inspiration

While we were visiting the region on our trip to Tilcara - a region inside the province of Jujuy in Argentina- Juan Ignacio  told us about their social reality, which is directly related to the sense of exclusion, lack of social and economic values in their communities. Examples of this are addictions like alcoholism and the increasing number of suicides among young people alarming epidemiologists. BIOCONEXIÓN is a platform that seeks to change that reality of exclusion, not by receiving donations or participating in charitable activities; but raising awareness and business opportunities. 

In this trip we learn a very interesting concept that reflects BIOCONEXIÓN essence: it is "La Minga". Minga or Minka means “working together” in Quechua, (the language of the indigenous people of the Andes). It is an ancient tradition of collaborative work for the common good. They believe that by performing a shared work, its result will always be faster and better.

Currently, many communities work that way in Jujuy, they meet to work together because individual work would be impossible. Labours can benefit one or many people: could be building a road or having a neighbor access to water, but it is always a collective commitment.

“La Minga” highlights different values as leadership, solidarity, companionship, teamwork and common good satisfaction. Delivering physical effort in “La Minga” is expressing love for the land and in that way the same love for others. In this way, BIOCONEXIÓN wants to integrate two worlds: town and countryside expressing love for our land.

"Have you ever tried to separate 10 centimeters of the earth, trying not to return to it? Impossible. Everything is in it, is what provides us with food, everything goes and returns to it, we are bound." Juan Ignacio Gerardi, Bioconexion Founder.   

Business benefit

  • BIOCONEXIÓN was created by Juan Ignacio Gerardi, more than 20 producers and their families from 14 local communities are participating in this project, and 20 more are being attracted and trained in the region of Jujuy.
  • With the aim of strengthening joint work, Bioconexión has initiated the process for the formation of a Cooperative Rural Work with the National Institute of Cooperatives and Social Economy of Argentina- INAES. In fact, the " cooperative " has been working informally for over 4 years. This joint work easily took root, because of the values and goals of a cooperative, are similar to the figure of "La Minga " (mentioned above) that the locals know too well and has been learned generation after generation.
  • BIOCONEXIÓN is now officially a cooperative since the end of 2016 (registration #55823). 
  • BIOCONEXIÓN gets between 5% and 10% of the value of the products for the work of cataloging, diffusion in gastronomic and social fields, distribution and training in organic production.
  • Today that percentage is variable according to the situation which each producer is crossing.  The idea is that as the legal organizational structure is established to arrange fixed percentages to allow to concrete projects of common benefit.  For instance:  building a spice mill, freight for producers in areas of difficult access, set in conditions a Tilcara house for the producers to meet when they go to town and to package products, a fund for special projects that initially may not be profitable but which constitute an improvement for the producer and his community.
  • The producers obtain for their production better price for their products allowing them to live off their lands.

Social and environmental benefit

  • According to estimates of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), more than 60 million people are engaged in food production through family farming. Also, 46% of the rural population of the region lives in poverty and nearly 28% in extreme poverty.    
  • BIOCONEXIÓN worked to recompose farmers pride in agricultural production, generating local employment and improving development possibilities while promoting the use of sustainable agricultural practices for food production. 
  • BIOCONEXIÓN dreams to continue working with food paradigm change and that the project reaches everywhere.   Juan Ignacio Gerardi wishes to replicate BIOCONEXIÓN contacting producers from diverse areas with different interested buyers by region / city and time of year.  
  • BIOCONEXIÓN work has just begun.                   

Interview(s)

Juan Ignacio Gerardi, Creator

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