SINGAPORE – Olam, in partnership with Agropolis Foundation, is on the hunt for ground-breaking scientific research that can revolutionize the agricultural industry and win the US$75,000 grant offered under the Olam Prize for Innovation in Food Security.
According to the company, 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.
This is line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal #2: End hunger.
Last year’s prize went to Durum wheat breeder Dr. Filippo Bassi of the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) for his development of a strain of heat-tolerant wheat which can withstand the 40°C temperatures of sub-Saharan Africa.
“Receiving the Olam Prize was 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 five years,” said Dr. Bassi.
“Millers and food producers have echoed this interest and are waiting to buy the grains from the farmers for processing.”
The fast-growing wheat helps farmers maximize land that lies fallow after the eight-month rice crop, in a country where overall yields are among the lowest in the world, according to the World Bank.
Two Senegalese farming communities have now produced the first 10 tons of certified grains – one being a female cooperative of 50 women – since receiving the prize funding.
Once fully scaled, the goal is to produce 1,000 tons of seeds over the next three years.
“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.”
“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,” added Sunny Verghese, Co-Founder and Group CEO at Olam.
“The Olam Prize aims to support breakthrough innovations so that together we can re-imagine agriculture for greater food security.”
The Agropolis Foundation supports and promotes high-level research and higher education in agricultural sciences, with a focus on sustainability in temperate, tropical and Mediterranean regions.