Encouraging diversification of the rural economy

Encouraging diversification of the rural economy : Diversification model and agricultural development for small farmers

Year Founded:
Organization type: 
Project Stage:
$100,000 - $250,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

To struggle against the monoculture problem we propose the use of a perennial crop such as the palm Acrocomia totai in order to diversify agriculture systems increasing the soil usage. Biodiesel and derived product can be obtained, impacting on profits and renewable energy.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if…. A single crop could diversify the agriculture systems by producing biofuels and increasing the agriculture economy?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Argentine Northeast rural farmers have small land extensions with scarce or no agriculture diversification and a few technological tools. The lack of training and experience in the use of other crops impacts on farmers’ incomes jeopardizing the continuity of these activities. On the other hand, the low rate of income does not allow farmers to hire qualified help to increase their cost effectiveness.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

The implementation of perennial crops as the A. totai will benefit the diversification of agricultural crops mainly by increasing the soil usage. Including this palm in the agriculture system will promote the production of both animal and other agricultural activities, such as the generation of biodiesel all from the same place. All in all, these alternatives will increase farmers cost effectiveness. This project will promote the involvement of both University and local rural high schools in the Argentine Northeast area to train young people with technical and production information regarding this perennial crop. Young leaders may assist farmers technicaly and develop enterpreneurial and social skills.


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Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

There are many farmers who have Jobs outside their smallholdings doing other activities due to the low profits they have from their own fields. This phenomenon raises another problem, farmers migration to cities. The implementation of this perennial crop, Acrocomia t. ,will help improve farmer profits, diversifying the agriculture system including horticulture, cattle raising and fruit production. By incrementing rural activities in farmer land, massive migration would be counteracted, promoting farmers to stay in their lands.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Since 2013 we have been collecting all the theoretical information available from this palm, going through all the existent bibliography to be updated in terms of what is being done with this crop. On the other hand, we have sampled 3 Northeast provinces of Argentina in order to evaluate native populations of A. totai palms and determinate their potential fruits yield and agronomics characteristics. The training of future young technical entrepreneurs in rural high schools, and the creation of experimental and productive fields with A. totai seedlings will be the starting point to extend this crop to farmers in a 3-year term. The first fruit production in farmers’ fields is expected to be in a 8-year term given the characteristics of this plant. As a qualitative impact, we will also create a pilot small plant in a rural high school to process fruit and for oil extraction.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

In a five-year term we expect to have the seedlings ready to be planted in other fields. In a 10-year term the first fruit productions should be achieved and processed to obtain oil and animal feed. The maximal potential of this project will be achieved when 5.000.000 hectares are under this agriculture combined system which includes palm growth and other activities. We expect to have an industrial development giving rise to oil and biodiesel industries, and to promote animal feed by using industrial remains.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

With the contribution of this start-up we would be able to continue the experimentation with native palm populations, and build a plant nursery aiming to produce seedlings from Acrocomia t. The purchase of tools and laboratory supplies for the production and improvement tasks would also be possible. We intend to get profits from the seedlings sales, which will financially support the project subsistence as well.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

The current farmer problems have not been addressed yet. There are local initiatives, but with no success as farmers are isolated and have no coordination. This project will have the total backup of the National Government, the provincial Government ( Corrientes Province ) and the University of Buenos Aires, giving as the advantage to work in an organized and coordinated way in order to have better results. Rural high schools support similar long term projects to promote the development of their influence areas as to generate better future jobs for their students.

Founding Story

I did my undergraduate studies in the School of Agriculture of the University of Buenos Aires, and from the moment I started the Agronomy training I was interested in bioenergy production . Later on, I began to work as a Teaching Assistant at the Industrial Crops chair, focusing on crops related to the biodiesel production. In order to deal with the energy related problems that our region is currently facing, our team has decided to search for energy alternatives, which led us to work and develop this perennial crop with enormous advantages to diversify agroecosystems.


The team is composed by: Lucas Landolfo, Project Leader, student at the Faculty of Agriculture – University of Buenos Aires (UBA). Ing. Agr. Diego Wassner, Undersecretary Outreach program: University and High School links, Coordinator of a Working and Study Group in Biofuels, Chair of Industrial Crops , Faculty of Agriculture - UBA, Av. San Martín 4453 (CP1417), Cap.Fed. ARGENTINA, Tel. (54+11) 4524-8075/8040, Fax. (54+11) 4514-8737. http://www.agro.uba.ar/GET/biocombustibles. Ing. Agr. Andrés Leone, coordinator of the project SAV04: “Developing of crops for Bioenergy” in the Agro energy Direction of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries of the Nation. Antonio Barrio, project assistance associated to Faculty of Agriculture – University of Buenos Aires (UBA). The team finds its strengths in the diversity of functions and areas of knowledges every team member has. This makes the team very efficient and capable of accomplishing the ultimate objective which is the developing of this palm specie. Bioenergy development of culture for the Directorate of Agro energy, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries of the Nation.
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Which of the 8 UN Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals) pre-selected for this competition does your solution relate most closely to? [select all that apply]

No Poverty, Affordable and Clean Energy.

Leadership and the Unilever Awards
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