Peru's talent and creativity are once again being recognized at the international level. Agro-industrial engineer Julio Garay Barrios, 26, won first place in the contest 'An idea to change history 2019', organized by the prestigious History Channel in Latin America, with his product: cookies against anemia.
The contest, which began in 2014 with the purpose of promoting innovative projects that have a positive impact on the world, awarded the young Ayacuchano the highest distinction at a gala held in Mexico City.
Nutri H is the name of this cookie that, besides having a pleasant taste, has high levels of protein and iron – a perfect combination for tackling anemia and child malnutrition. The jury obviously thought so too as they deemed it the best idea out of the five finalists.
The pilot test of the snack, which took place in the district of Ventanilla in 2019, proved its effectiveness. Fifty children, between 3 and 6 years old, who had been identified as suffering from anemia were enlisted in the program that consisted of the daily consumption of the product for 45 days. At the end of these 45 days, 50% of the children had recovered. Two weeks later, this figure rose to 70%. The authorities and parents congratulated and thanked Garay Barrios for his creation.
The taste of effort
Julio was found to be anemic at the age of six. "I was feeling sleepy and didn't feel like eating," he recalled. His parents helped him to recover thanks to the chicken blood (high in iron) that his family obtained from sacrificing these animals in the fields of his native Ayacucho. That experience left a mark on him and fueled his desire to find a different way to tackle this disease.
It wasn't until he was in the middle of his Industrial Engineering degree at the Universidad San Cristóbal de Huamanga that his dream began to take shape. As part of his research work, he started the nutritional cookies project with ingredients obtained in his city such as bovine hemoglobin, cocoa and quinoa.
"Sometimes they came out hard, and sometimes they came out soft," he said. He carried out over 300 trials. However, he never gave up until he found the exact recipe, which would later be praised on the History Channel. With the support of his loved ones, he set up the company and created the product.
Julio Garay wanted the quality of Nutri H to have an impact not only in his country, but also internationally. He came across the TV station's contest announcement while browsing the internet. He thought it was the perfect opportunity to promote his product and so entered straight away.
The public played an important role in the success of the Peruvian snack. After choosing the semi-finalists, the competition entered the voting phase to pick the three finalist projects. It was then that the Peruvian cookie took first place with 671,879 votes. During the last stage, the jury awarded the victory to the anti-anemia cookies.
This is the second time that Peru has won the History Channel competition that has just been held for the sixth time. The first winner was the Huancavelica biologist Max Hidalgo in 2017 with the Yawa wind project, which consisted of a turbine with the capacity to produce drinking water from collecting fog.
2018 also saw a Peruvian presence. Hernán Asto won second place with Alinti, a device that generates electrical energy through the use of bacterial species in plants.
Julio Garay received 60 thousand dollars for the first place prize in the History Channel's innovation contest.
Sources: History Channel/ Andina/ La República/ Correo