Competition to curb post harvest losses

Competition to curb post harvest losses
Photo: Post harvest losses. A small-scale farmer in the farm. Photo/Courtesy

Economic experts in East Africa want people with capacity to develop new innovations that can help solve post harvest losses in the region.

In a new competition, Inter Region Economic Network (IREN) wants innovators to participate in designing technologies that have the potential to help the continent confront and counter the huge challenges in post-harvest management.

“We are very delighted to host this exciting new challenge and would like to invite all post-harvest technology innovators from all East African countries to enter this game-changing competition,” said James Shikwati, Chief Executive Officer, IREN.

“This competition will enable us to identify a range of technologies.” Successful applicants will undergo training on how to package and pitch their ideas to investors in order to scale up dissemination capabilities of their technology to a wider market.

“IREN welcomes entries featuring post-harvest innovations and technologies that demonstrate potential for scale-up and wider dissemination from institutions, innovators, researchers and individuals aged 18 and above from the East African member countries namely Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi,” he added ahead of the 1st All Africa Post harvest Congress and exhibition in Nairobi on March 28 to 31, 2017.

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The top 10 contestants will be invited to showcase their projects at The First All Africa Post Harvest Congress and Exhibition and pitch to potential investors. The top 3 contestants will receive a cash award amounting to USD 30,000 seed fund.

The top 50 entries will be published in a publication that will be widely shared with potential investors. The Congress, whose theme is “Reducing Food Losses and Waste: Sustainable Solutions for Africa”, is the first of its kind to be held in Africa. It provides a platform for diverse stakeholders in the food supply chain  ̶  including farmers, innovators, entrepreneurs, researchers, development agencies, civil society and policymakers among others.

The main strategic partner in the congress organization is the Rockefeller Foundation. It is estimated that one third (30 per cent) of the food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted along the supply chains globally. Proportionately this translates into 1.3 billion metric tons of the total volume of the food produced.

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Experts say this accounts for 15 per cent income reduction for over 470 million actors across the agriculture value chain, including smallholder farmers, manufacturers and retailers.

The congress is also supported by other partners including the Netherlands Development Organization (SNV), Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Horticulture Innovation Engine (USAID), Post-harvest Education Foundation (PEF), Global Alliance for Improve Nutrition (GAIN), East Africa Grain Council (EAGC), among others.

Experts will identify 10 scalable innovations and technologies, from the East Africa Community region, that address challenges in post-harvest management of perishable crop commodities, perishable livestock and fish products, and non-perishable food commodities that include grains, cereals, pulses and processed foods.

IREN is coordinating the competition in partnership with the USAID East Africa Trade and Investment Hub and Syngenta. University of Nairobi is among other Kenyan universities teaming up with the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, African Research and Development Institutions, and the World Food Preservation Center (WFPC) to organize the Congress.

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