Top 10 Finalists Emerge from the Evidence and Action Towards Safe, Nutritious Food (EatSafe) Innovation Challenge
The World Health Organization estimates that every year, 600 million people become ill and many die because of unsafe food. Up to 38% of those affected were children under five years of age, and 53% were people living in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Improving food safety is a global challenge and although innovative solutions are being developed to make food safer around the world, not enough of these innovations have been applied in traditional food markets or along the food supply chains that supply these markets. To address this gap, the USAID-funded Feed The Future program, Evidence and Action Towards Safe, Nutritious Food (EatSafe), launched the EatSafe Innovation Challenge in Ethiopia and Nigeria. It aims to encourage the development of food safety solutions or safer food products with the goal of improving food safety for consumers in traditional markets.
The innovations are centered across seven categories along the food supply chain: peer learning platforms, food processing, food waste technology, sensors for food safety assessment, retailing and packaging, urban-rural linkages and food system logistics, and platforms for supply chain management.
The call for applications was launched in April 2022. A total of 740 entries were received from Nigeria and Ethiopia. After two screenings and reviews, 10 innovative concepts emerged as the finalists to proceed to the EatSafe National Innovation Challenge in both countries.
Five Nigerian innovators were selected for their proposed solutions to the growing number of Nigerians affected by food safety issues:
- Timilehin Oguntoyinbo will use a solar-powered cooling system to transport meat in an easy-to-move bicycle to the consumer.
- Oyeyemi Fadairo will utilize an inflatable tunnel solar dryer to remove excess water in food to reduce spoilage.
- Tijjani Ali Lawal’s Echotronics innovation will preserve fresh foods through a solar-powered refrigerating system.
- Ruth Ede’s innovative idea is to convert food waste from the farm into rich, organic fertilizer.
- Idogun Jennifer’s auto dryers will be used to process food items like fish and meat with utmost consideration for hygienic processing.
Five Ethiopian finalists were also selected for their solutions aimed at reducing the rates of Ethiopians reporting harm from food and water:
- Eyoel Legesse Arega will produce processed, whole egg powder to reduce Salmonella, and for longer shelf life and support to women-led poultry operations.
- Binyam Kassa Engidasew’s pasteurized probiotic yogurt could reduce numerous food hazards and spoilage.
- Yezichalem Tessema’s Papaya Powder, which will be produced using new fruit drying technology to reduce contamination during drying and to minimize nutrition loss.
- Helen Weldemichael intends to improve traditional methods of processing indigenous food to avoid the growth of pathogens and microbes.
- Saeed Ismael intends to reduce food waste by converting it into natural, humus-rich fertilizers.
As the finalists get ready for the National Pitch Challenge in Ethiopia and Nigeria, mentors have been assigned to guide them on how to refine their innovative ideas for the national event. Mentors will support the finalists in developing a pitching package. This includes a pitch deck, a business model canvas and a summary business plan that outlines how these innovative solutions will facilitate access to safe, nutritious foods in traditional markets.
The National Pitch Challenge will be during the last week of August 2022. The top three finalists from each country will proceed to the Grand Finale at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) in October. Finalists will work with DTU technical experts to improve their innovations and then participate in a final global pitch competition before a panel of judges with the chance to win the $10,000 grand prize. The winning idea will be judged based on food safety and nutritional benefit, adaptability to low- and middle-income countries, scalability and environmental sensitivity.
The EatSafe Innovation Challenge is an activity led by the EatSafe Consortium, supported by the Scaling Up Nutrition Business Network. This blog was made possible through support provided by Feed the Future through USAID, under the terms of Agreement #7200AA19CA00010. The opinions expressed herein are those of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the U.S. government.