Almost a year ago, I joined the IUPAC Next Generation Program (N-GAGE) contest and submitted an idea about sustainable crop protection entitled “PestiSorb: remediation of pesticide rinsate using activated carbon derived from agricultural wastes”. My idea is to produce activated carbon from existing agricultural wastes (e.g. banana peel, rice husk, etc.). The activated carbon will be used to clean the dilute pesticide solution resulting from the cleaning of pesticide application equipment, also known as the pesticide rinsate. Once cleaned the rinsate could be safer to dispose and will lessen the risk of groundwater and surface water contamination.
I was very surprised to find out that out of more than 600 entries worldwide, my idea was one of the 50 ideas chosen! Hence, I was able to participate in the IUPAC Next Generation Agri-summit and attend the 14th IUPAC International Congress of Crop Protection Chemistry that was held in Ghent, Belgium, May 19-24, 2019. Together with the world class facilitators of the Agri-summit and the brilliant young people who were passionate about sustainable crop protection, it was a great learning experience on a variety of topics such as leadership, networking, social media, personal branding, and behavioral analysis. In addition, I’ve also learned a lot about entrepreneurship, pitching, and improving my presentation skills.
Aside from being a participant, what is even more surprising is that I was chosen to be one of the five Next Generation Agricultural Innovator (N-GAGE) Champions and received funding for the implementation of my submitted idea! Included with the seed grant is one-years worth of mentoring and training opportunities! This enabled me to attend a summer school at Ghent University on September 2019 entitled “Plunge into your own business plan” and mentored by Prof. Ludo Poelaert on the financial aspects of doing business.
Today, with the first tranche of funds that I received from the IUPAC N-GAGE Programme, my idea is now being implemented bit by bit. I purchased equipment such as furnace and supplies like crucibles needed for my experiment. I am currently working on the production of banana peel activated carbon (BPAC) using the banana peel wastes collected from the sellers of banana products in the local markets. I know that it will be a long way before I finish this project but with the continuous support of the people behind the IUPAC N-GAGE Programme, my fellow N-GAGE Champions, and other stakeholders, I know that I will be successful in contributing to a more sustainable crop protection!
Eric Jhon Cruz