Eight Innovations Share Pioneering Solutions to Tackle the Global Food Crisis

WFP Innovation Accelerator
7 min readFeb 2, 2023

Meet our latest cohort of innovators and start-ups that are tirelessly working to end hunger. Register here to attend the WFP Pitch Event on 17 February 2023.

By Sanjna Sudan

Illustration: WFP India/ Sanjna Sudan

Did you know that up to 828 million people still go to bed hungry each night? That’s more than one in ten people globally.

Acute food insecurity has reached unprecedented highs, affecting a record 345 million people — up from 135 million in 2019. Conflict, climate change and the after-effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have worsened the already deteriorating situation. The economic fallout of the pandemic, and the war in Ukraine, have pushed prices up and put food out of reach for millions of people across the world. These rising costs are also affecting WFP’s work.

Therefore, in October 2022, we launched our call for applications to search for game-changing innovations addressing the Global Food Crisis.

After a competitive selection process, six teams were selected to participate in WFP ’s 51st Innovation Bootcamp, from 6 to 8 February 2023. WFP Innovation Bootcamps consist of high-intensity workshops to help teams dive deep into challenges, ideate solutions, and refine project plans. On 17 February, the teams will pitch their ideas during the WFP Pitch Event, an official side event of the Munich Security Conference.

Apart from these selected six teams, two additional startups are now part of our Scale-up Enablement portfolio and will showcase their innovation at the Pitch Event on 17 February 2023.

To register for the pitch event, click here.

Learn more about the participating teams from Iraq, Camaroon, Tanzania and many other countries from all over the world and check out their innovative solutions below:

Care4Agro

Care4Agro enables users to affordably monitor soil on the spot to provide soil fertility and nutrient data.

Lack of access to soil data leads to unsustainable practices, such as over- or under-fertilization of farmlands. This can lead to negative environmental impacts or low yields, which may eventually hamper food production and food security.

Conventional soil tests are expensive, time consuming and are done at wet chemistry laboratories, which are often inaccessible to smallholder farmers. This significantly reduces the number of advisors and farmers that are willing to test their farmland soil.

Care4Agro’s handheld soil scanner has a number of benefits over existing wet chemistry methods. They have sensors that cover a bigger range, reduce scanning time to 5 minutes, are battery operated that can last for a week and have 82 percent increased accuracy compared to wet chemistry methods.

Photo: Care 4 Agro/Benjamin Straube

CassVita

CassVita’s solution extends the shelf life of fresh cassava from 3 days to 18 months.

The global food crisis triggered a wave of disruption of food supplies across Africa with a shortage of over 30 million metric tons of food, especially imported wheat and maize. The locally produced, highly nutritious and climate-resilient cassava tuber is an ideal wheat alternative. However, the tuber has a short shelf life and spoils only 3 days after harvest, making it hard to offer a cassava-based alternative at scale.

CassVita developed a microbial-based technology that extends the shelf life of fresh cassava to up to 18 months. This reduces post-harvest losses from 40 percent to almost zero.

Photo: CassVita

Global Upstream Planning (GUP)

Global Upstream Planning provides data-driven insights to enable users to make efficient supply chain decisions.

World Food Programme operations face complex challenges every day, often requiring timely decision making regarding supplies, storage and funds allocation, to maximize the amount of food being delivered.

GUP models the global WFP supply chain network and provides data-driven insights on sourcing and delivery to ensure efficient supply chain decision making. This use of data and advanced analytics are critical for helping WFP operations enable a fast and easy way to compare potential solutions to ensure resources reach where they are needed most.

Photo: WFP/Jordan Isenhour

Kitepower

Kitepower generates electricity for communities through the flying of kites.

Households and commercial businesses in several rural areas rely on non-renewable energy sources, such as paraffin, wood, coal, or others, which are highly polluting and may pose multiple health risks.

Kitepower harnesses renewable energy via the use of kites but is an alternative to traditional methods of generating power from wind. One Kite, of approximately 60 square meters and weighing 60 kilograms, generates enough electricity to power up to 150 households every day.

The solution promises to save diesel equivalent to over 3 million tons of CO2 emissions yearly.

Photo: Kitepower/Johannes Peschel

EYouth

EYouth solution enables food-insecure youth in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region to access employment opportunities by enabling their learning and training opportunities.

The organisation fosters employment in the MENA region by enabling food insecure youth to access the skills they need to get hired via their Artificial Intelligence solution. The team provides assessments, interactive learning programmes, and certificates from international Universities and organizations. EYouth also enables the students to apply for jobs that match with their hiring partners’ needs.

To date, the team has more than 1.6 million youths on the platform, more than 910,000 completed learners and matched more than 200,000 jobs with its users. They are headquartered in Egypt and operate in Lebanon, Libya, Iraq, Yemen, Jordan, Sudan & South Sudan.

mothers2mothers (m2m)

Mothers2mothers (m2m) employs local women living with HIV to help their communities meet urgent health needs.

Chronic malnutrition can cost African economies anywhere between 3 and 16 percent of their gross domestic product annually. Furthermore, millions of people lack access to the high-quality health care required to overcome malnutrition, particularly those living with HIV/AIDS, who are the most vulnerable.

Through the ‘Mentor Mother’ model, m2m employs and trains local women living with HIV so they can deliver integrated primary health care services at scale. These ‘Mentor Mothers’ deliver modular nutrition education sessions, conduct assessments, make referrals, provide counselling and share tools for home gardens.

m2m has reached more than 15 million people so far; helping almost 2.17M at-risk women and children remain alive. It has eliminated mother-to-child transmission of HIV among enrolled clients for eight years and has created jobs for nearly 12,000 women living with HIV.

Photo: mothers2mothers

Apart from the above-mentioned startups who are part of our 51st Innovation Bootcamp cohort, we have two additional startups pitching their ideas at the Global Pitch Event on 17 February. These two startups are part of our Scale-up Enablement portfolio, as they will be scaled across some of the World Food Programme’s operations:

Nilus

Nilus develops technology to lower the cost of living for low-income communities by simplifying food systems and encouraging community group buying.

Globally, over two billion people are food insecure in low-income neighbourhoods where food products are 25 percent more expensive than in middle-income neighbourhoods.

Nilus technology procures food and groceries directly from food producers and distributes them in low-income neighbourhoods through women-led community group buying networks. The women consolidate individual orders to access wholesale prices. Nilus then offers products at 70 to 75 percent of their market price to families and community kitchens, eventually making nutritious food more affordable.

Science for Society

Science for Society (S4S) converts farm losses into food ingredients through solar powered food processing systems.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, 70 per cent of the households in India depend primarily on agriculture for their livelihoods. However, farmers lose up to 40 per cent of their agricultural produce due to inefficient supply chains.

S4S provides an end-to-end ecosystem for female farmers to become efficient food producers and processors through the right combination of technology, access to finance, training & capacity building, and market linkage. These food ingredients are nutrition-rich, nonperishable, and made ready to use for the Food and Beverage Industry.

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.

WFP Innovation Bootcamp is an opportunity for teams to ideate further and refine their solutions to become field-ready. Over the course of a week, they will participate in workshops and one-on-one mentorship with industry experts on user research, human-centered design, prototyping, market access, and other areas.

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

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WFP Innovation Accelerator

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