2019-2020 Special Category:

Re-purposed Farmlands & Tobacco Crops



While there are infinite positive impacts to reducing smoking around the world, unfortunately there are negative consequences for low-income countries that depend on tobacco farming as a thriving industry. The reduced demand of tobacco could bring devastating consequences to smallholder tobacco farmers, many of whom are economically dependent on tobacco crops for their livelihood.

The Conrad Challenge is partnering with the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World (FSFW) to create a special category for the 2019–2020 competition. We need you to develop 21st century agricultural technology solutions to increase smallholder agriculture efficiency and productivity to either re-purpose tobacco farmlands for a different crop, or to utilize the tobacco plant for a different purpose. Let’s work together to ensure these farmers have a path to success as tobacco demand decreases around the world.

Learn more about FSFW’s recent progress!

Top Prize: One team will be named the Pete Conrad Scholar in this category at the 2020 Conrad Innovation Summit by FSFW. This team will receive an all-expense paid trip to Des Moines, Iowa to attend the World Food Prize/Borlaug Dialogue. In addition to attending the World Food Prize events and hearing from world-leading experts, the winners will have the opportunity to enjoy the history of the World Food Prize Hall of Laureates.

Get started…

Recent articles framing the issue:

Jump Start to Brainstorming:

Check out FSFW Conrad Finalists from Past Challenges:

  • Aqualirio Labs: Tabaci is a moisturizing gel that uses tobacco-derived squalene, which is a highly effective antioxidant that helps combat signs of aging. (2017-2018 Conrad Challenge; California, USA) *Pete Conrad Scholar*

  • LRK Labs: Esprí is a cosmetic (makeup) that utilizes an innovative formula based on tobacco peptides to create a flawless, buildable full-coverage foundation for various skin tones. (2018-2019 Conrad Challenge; California, USA) *Pete Conrad Scholar*

  • Malawi Hurt 2 Health: Organic bandages made from tobacco products. (2018-2019 Conrad Challenge; Colorado, USA)

  • Taurus: Osiris is a sustainable and affordable windrower which, in tandem with the use of rapeseeds, aims to repurpose the land that was previously used for tobacco plantations. (2018-2019 Conrad Challenge; Australia)

  • Team Neon: A farming application known as VirtualFarm designed to help farmers, but tobacco farmer in particular. It is an easy-to-use platform that guides and translates to farmers the processes for farm management. (2017-2018 Conrad Challenge; Nigeria)

  • Tobacco-cide: A natural pesticide generated from the tobacco plant that effectively targets certain harmful pests without wounding helpful insects. (2018-2019 Conrad Challenge; North Carolina, USA)

  • Trans-Bacco: Genetically modifies tobacco plants to accumulate an enzyme ‘angiotension converint enzyme (ACE) inhibitor’ in its leaves. ACE inhibitor, which is an expensive enzyme used in most heart disease drugs to lower blood pressure and dilate blood vessels, would provide a unique alternative to the growing number of expensive hear disease treatments, all while adding to the applicability of tobacco in research. (2017-2018 Conrad Challenge; North Carolina, USA)

  • xFarmSmart: Hakuna TobacApp, means No More Tobacco App, educates and provides information to the farmers in Africa about how to be more prosperous by shifting to better yielding crops than tobacco. (2017-2018 Conrad Challenge; Canada)

  • You Have A Friend in Me: Bamboozled is bamboo-reinforced concrete. This differs from the steel-reinforced concrete that is used in construction.  Bamboo is cheaper than steel, and is thus a better option for third-world countries who have limited budgets. The team recommended growing bamboo on tobacco farms as an alternate crop. (2017-2018 Conrad Challenge; New York, USA)

Don't miss your chance to join this revolution! This special category gives you a seat at the table to help FSFW determine which alternatives are the most viable to addressing this challenge. In the future, FSFW plans to bring together private, development and public players to invest in pilot solutions.  


  • The Smoke-Free World category will follow all of the traditional guidelines for all three rounds of the Conrad Challenge and will adhere to the same Challenge deadlines.

  • Teams are subject to the full registration fee of $399, unless they have registered in another Challenge category resulting in a discounted rate.

  • Smoke-Free World will be judged with the same criteria in all three rounds of the competition and a Pete Conrad Scholar will be selected within this category. Smoke-Free World will also have special judges from the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World participate, with the potential for additional prizes and awards along the way.


The Foundation for a Smoke-Free World (FSFW) is an independent, nonprofit organization established in 2017. It funds research, promotes innovation, and supports collaborative initiatives to accelerate progress in reducing harm and deaths from smoking worldwide. The purpose of FSFW is to end smoking in this generation. FSFW’s areas of focus include smoking cessation and harm reduction, as supported by new technologies, therapies, alternative products, behavioral science, and other approaches. FSFW employs and promotes a human-centered approach to problem-solving. It builds tailored strategies that address the unique challenges faced by smokers and vulnerable populations affected by the elimination of the use of cigarettes and other forms of combustible tobacco. It is guided by an evidence-based research philosophy grounded in gender sensitivity and multiculturalism.