Humanitarian innovators strive to create a resilient, safe, and inclusive food system

By Linda Nyemba

Photo: WFP/Michael Tewelde

The World Food Programme (WFP) Innovation Accelerator is delivering its 38th Innovation Bootcamp with a focus on bold solutions that address the Sustainable Development Goal of Zero Hunger (SDG 2) by 2030 and complement the Food Systems Summit (FSS) 2021.

Eight teams have been selected from the 2021 WFP Innovation Challenge; a pool of 502 eligible applications from 95 countries. The innovators were asked to submit ideas that would support the FSS and were selected based on one of three sub-themes: (1) resilient food systems, (2) safe and nutritious food systems, and (3) inclusive food systems.

Over the course of the bootcamp, the teams join on a virtual journey of ideation, project design, and innovation. Check out the teams and their ideas below:

  1. The Future of Hope Foundation

Based in Zimbabwe, The Future of Hope Foundation collaborates with marginal and vulnerable communities by providing innovation training on how to produce sustainable food. One of their main projects is the mushroom based integrated food production system that aims to address the increasing insecurity of food, nutrition and income, by cultivating mushrooms from agricultural waste.

2. Clear Plate

The Clear Plate team is tackling the problem of food waste, as one-third of food is wasted each year. To do this, Clear Plate is going beyond traditional marketing mechanisms often used to raise awareness, and reduce food waste by using more engaging methods to motivate consumers. Their solution is an app that leverages artificial intelligence to capture users’ plates after eating to calculate rewards which can be retrieved or exchanged for charity donations.

3. Zambia Food Dryers

From maternal health to malnutrition in children, smallholder farmers’ post-harvest losses impact many rural communities in Zambia, as it limits access to nutrient dense foods. A team composed of WFP’s Zambia country office staff is aiming to introduce farmers and other social groups to solar food dryers through a market-based approach. The solar dryers provide the users with a safe way to preserve fruits and vegetables, prolonging food availability.

4. Agsol

Nearly a billion of the world’s poorest people are smallholder farmers who grow their own food and have no electricity. In Africa, 40 billion hours of women’s time is spent each year accessing milling services. Agsol’s solar MicroMill is designed to fill this market gap. The MicroMill is a solar powered agro-processing machine for smallholder farmers living in off-grid environments with limited access to electricity. Their mission is to transform the agricultural machines used in these communities with solar to improve productivity, expand energy access, and generate greater incomes for farmers.

5. Clean Cooking Haiti: Heat Retention Bags

In Haiti, a high percentage of schools are using firewood or charcoal for cooking, resulting in toxic smokes, burning injuries, and negative environmental impacts. A team from the WFP Haiti country office wants to tackle these challenges by introducing heat retention bags and clean cooking training to low-income local communities. The heating retention bags are made of upcycled waste and as a result of their use, can provide a decrease in high energy costs, improve the health of cooks, and create livelihood opportunities through a local production model.

6. ARMENIA Project

A team from the WFP Armenia country office are developing a financial model that engages the private sector to provide affordable credit to local farmers, to enable them to install solar energy stations. Access to solar energy is cost-effective for the businesses and could push economic growth with environmental benefits.

7. Cricket House

Cricket House is tapping into the rising global demand for cricket based protein consumption while including rural Cambodian farming communities in its production. By using clean energy powered technology, powered by either stand-alone or micro-grid based solar, the local farmers can make cricket powder and roasted crickets that can be sold to a global market.

8. Seawater Greenhouse

Seventy percent of Yemenis live in rural areas and are highly dependent on subsistence agriculture. Most of the food being consumed in Yemen is imported and with recent decreases in annual precipitation, water availability for human consumption is becoming more and more scarce. A team composed of WFP Yemen country office staff is creating a solution to assist the Yemen population in finding fresh water for consumption and for crop irrigation. The innovation aims to desalinate seawater through reverse osmosis and use porous boards for the walls of the greenhouse to maintain cool temperature inside. The solution decreases the water needs for the plants by ten times.

Follow each project’s progress at the WFP Innovation Accelerator’s bootcamp from 30 August to 3 September 2021, on Twitter @WFPInnovation.

The WFP Innovation Accelerator sources, supports and scales high-potential solutions to end hunger worldwide. We provide WFP staff, entrepreneurs, start-ups, companies and non-governmental organizations with access to funding, mentorship, hands-on support and WFP operations.

Find out more about us: innovation.wfp.org. Subscribe to our e-newsletter. Follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn and watch our videos on YouTube.

Sourcing, supporting and scaling high-impact innovations to disrupt hunger.