Increasing sustainable food production is crucial to nourish the more than 820 million people who regularly go to bed hungry, and the additional two billion people the world will have by 2050. The Olam Prize for Innovation in Food Security aims to support scientific research that can deliver transformational impacts within global agriculture.
Awarded in partnership with the Agropolis Foundation, the Prize recognises an innovative scientific research project for its potential impact on the availability, accessibility, affordability and adequacy of food, in line with UN SDG#2: End Hunger. Winners receive a US$75,000 grant for scaling up their proven research.
The 2021 Olam Prize for Innovation in Food Security has been awarded to a research team that’s developed a highly effective botanical rodenticide poised for rollout to help curb rats and reduce crop loss in Africa. The research team was led by Luwieke Bosma, from MetaMeta Research, Wageningen, in The Netherlands, and Dr. Meheretu Yonas, from Mekelle University in Ethiopia.
The shortlisted projects best embodied the promise of innovation, the benefits of engagement, and the potential for impact at scale.
While each of the 2021 entrants exhibited novel solutions to problems new and chronic, the finalists stood out because their projects were judged particularly deserving of continued development and support.
Innovation Mapping for Food Security (IM4FS) – co-led by Dr Tomaso Ceccarelli of Wageningen University Research and Dr Elias Eyasu Fantahun of Addis Ababa University – recommends “best-fit” combinations of crops, farming practices and environmental and socio-economic conditions to optimise smallholder yields of staple crops in food insecure areas.
Applied at scale, it has the potential to transform productivity in countries like Ethiopia, hit by food insecurity.
The 2017 Prize went to Durum wheat breeder Dr Filippo Bassi of ICARDA for his development of a strain of heat-tolerant wheat, able to withstand the 40°C temperatures of sub-Saharan Africa.
Since receipt of the Prize funding, the new varieties have been well established in Senegal and Mauritania, and successfully cultivated for the first time in Benin, Togo, Ivory Coast, Ghana and the Republic of the Gambia.
Female farmers along the Senegal River have been trained to become village-based seed enterprises. They have produced 100 tonnes of seeds to date with the goal of reaching 1,000 tonnes by 2022, with continued government support. You can also read his plea to the COP 23 Committee on the Huffington Post.
The inaugural Prize in 2015 was awarded to a research team based at Cornell University who are revolutionising the way rice is grown. Read In conversation with Professor Uphoff – The Olam 2015 Prize Winner.