Olam to offer $75k grant to research that 're-imagines food security'

By Niamh Michail

- Last updated on GMT

© iStock
© iStock
Agri-food giant Olam and French research institution Agropolis are offering a $75,000 (€65,000) grant to “ground-breaking” scientific research that tackles food security from farm to fork.

Olam’s Prize for Innovation in Food Security aims to develop and scale-up scientific research projects that have the goal of realising the United Nation’s second Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of ending hunger.

This could be by making food more available, affordable, accessible or nutritionally adequate.

Sunny Verghese, co-founder and CEO of Olam said: “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.​”

Last year’s winner was a team of researchers led by Dr Filippo Bassi of the International Centre for Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), who used non-GMO molecular breeding techniques to select and cross durum wheat varieties that withstand temperatures of 35 to 40°C.

Bassi’s wheat variety also grows quickly, allowing farmers to plant and harvest it during the eight-month period between rice crop in this traditional rice-growing region.

Since ICARDA won the prize, two farming communities in Senegal (including one female cooperative of 50 women) have produced 10 tonnes of the grain. After full-scale up, the aim is to produce 1,000 tonnes over the next three years.

Click here to read FoodNavigator’s interview​ with last year's winner, Dr Filippo Bassi, on how the heat-resistant wheat could bring food security to one of the world’s poorest regions and create new global South-to-South trade dynamics, ending North Africa’s dependence on Western wheat.

Bassi said the Olam and Agropolis funding brought “excellent visibility​” to the project both among farmers and the government.

“[The] Senegalese Ministry of Agriculture has declared their intention to reach wheat independence in the next five years. Millers and food producers have echoed this interest and are waiting to buy the grains from the farmers for processing,” ​he said.

An independent jury of experts will select the winner and award the prize in conjunction with the Agropolis Louis Malassis International Scientific Prizes for Agriculture and Food.

The deadline for this year's application submissions is 23:59 Central European Time, 28 February 2019.

Click here​ for more details and to apply.

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