Olam, in partnership with Agropolis Fondation, is on the hunt for ground-breaking scientific research that can revolutionise the agricultural industry and win the USD$75,000 grant offered under the Olam Prize for Innovation in Food Security.
The Prize enables the further development and scaling of innovative research that shows clear evidence of its potential impact on the availability, affordability, accessibility and adequacy of food, in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal #2: End hunger[i].
The 2017 Prize went to Durum wheat breeder Dr Filippo Bassi of ICARDA[ii] for his development of a strain of heat-tolerant wheat. Able to withstand the 40°C temperatures of sub-Saharan Africa, the wheat can also grow quickly so farmers can maximise land that lies fallow after the eight month rice crop in a country where overall yields are among the lowest in the world[iii]. Since receipt of the prize funding, the first 10 tonnes of certified grains have been produced by two Senegalese farming communities – one being a female cooperative of 50 women. Once fully scaled, the goal to produce 1,000 tonnes of seeds in the next 3 years.
Commenting on what the funding meant to the implementation of his research, Dr Bassi said: “Receiving the Olam Prize was first of all a great honour and an outstanding recognition of the hard work we did on the ground. Thanks to the funding, we’ve achieved excellent visibility of this work both with farmers and with the government – the Senegalese Ministry of Agriculture has declared their intention to reach wheat independence in the next 5 years. Millers and food producers have echoed this interest and are waiting to buy the grains from the farmers for processing.”
“Given that Senegal has never produced wheat before, this is potentially life-changing, not only for over one million smallholder farmers in the Senegal Basin, but for all farmers struggling with increasing climatic temperatures. I wish the very best to the next Olam awardee as this prize offers incredible opportunities of development, professional recognition, and linkage with all spheres of key actors along the agriculture sector.”
Sunny Verghese, Co-Founder and Group CEO at Olam added: “The exciting discovery of Dr Bassi and his team exemplifies the impressive new scientific insights and techniques being developed by research teams around the world. The Olam Prize aims to support breakthrough innovations so that together we can re-imagine agriculture for greater food security.”
Applications are welcomed from academic or research institutions, civil societies and the private sector, and can focus on any region, environment, crop or part of the agricultural supply chain.
The 2019 Prize will be judged by an independent jury of experts and awarded in conjunction with the Agropolis Louis Malassis International Scientific Prizes for Agriculture and Food. Click here for more details on eligibility and how to apply. The deadline for application submissions is 23:59 CET (France) 28 February 2019.
Notes to editor
The Olam Prize for Innovation in Food Security is one of several of Olam’s initiatives focussed on delivering greater food security in the agricultural sector, as part of its mission to re-imagine global agriculture. Read more
i Sustainable Development Goal 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
ii International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA)
iii Source: The World Bank
About Agropolis Fondation
Agropolis Fondation is a foundation for scientific cooperation which aims to promote and support high-level research and higher education (training-through-research) as well as to broaden international research partnerships in agricultural sciences and sustainable development research.
The scientific work supported by the Foundation covers all aspects of the plant – from its genes to its environments to its final uses – and concerns temperate, Mediterranean and tropical climates. In the past 10 years the foundation has granted €40 million to scientific projects on cultivated plant diversity, biology and breeding, crop protection, sustainable agriculture and food systems, agro-ecological transition, adaptation to climate change, food processing and quality, socio-economics and public policies.