Coronavirus

Olam launches new competition to help global agriculture fight COVID-19

By Anthony Myers contact

- Last updated on GMT

Olam Prize for Innovation in Food Security recognises and supports transformational research in global agriculture. Pic: Olam International
Olam Prize for Innovation in Food Security recognises and supports transformational research in global agriculture. Pic: Olam International

Related tags: Olam International, coronavirus

Olam International, in partnership with Agropolis Fondation, has announced a competition with a $75,000 grant for the best innovation in food security that can deliver transformational impacts within global agriculture.

Olam International, in partnership with Agropolis Fondation, has announced a competition with a $75,000 grant for the best innovation in food security that can deliver transformational impacts within global agriculture.

Unlike other research awards, the Olam Prize for Innovation in Food Security requires clear evidence of potential short-term impact on food availability, affordability, adequacy, and accessibility.

The fourth edition of the biennial prize follows the recent warning from the UN World Food Programme that the COVID-19 pandemic will double the number of people suffering acute hunger by the end of 2020, bringing food security firmly into the world’s spotlight.

Breakthrough innovations

Sunny Verghese, co-founder and group CEO at Olam said: “At a time when the world faces a potential rise in food insecurity from the coronavirus crisis, with vulnerable parts of the developing world, particularly in Africa, most at risk, the new scientific insights and techniques being developed by research teams around the world are more significant than ever. The Olam Prize aims to support breakthrough innovations so that together we can re-imagine agriculture for greater food security​.”

The winner of the previous prize was a pioneering mapping approach that is reimagining subsistence farming in Ethiopia, co-ordinated by Dr Tomaso Ceccarelli of Wageningen Environmental Research and Dr Elias Eyasu Fantahun of Addis Ababa University.

Scaling up

Commenting on what the funding has meant to the implementation of their research, Dr Ceccarelli said: “The funding from the Olam Prize has allowed us to start scaling up our approach and shift our focus from areas of high potential agriculture, to the food insecure and drought prone regions of Ethiopia​.

With the unexpected outbreak of COVID-19, we’re also reviewing with our partners how we can support more immediate and urgent food security needs for farmers amid the pandemic. This would include planning efficient seed, fertiliser and other input distribution to farmers based on needs assessments​.”

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.

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