FOOD SECURITY INNOVATION CHALLENGE that kicked of on the 19th – 21st February 2021 food security is a basic need and requirement for survival in drastic situations which encompasses several activities such as food availability, food access and food use.
Research has shown that lack of access to this can result in major health problems such as immune deficiencies in children, mental disability in adults, deteriorating body conditions and ultimately death affecting the social, environmental, and economic outcomes. In some cases, the lack of Food Security has the potential to cause civil unrest. In some parts of Africa, particularly Zambia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Malawi, Namibia, and Mozambique achieving SDG 2; Zero hunger remains paramount although being challenged by factors such as climate change, overpopulation, and stunted economic growth to mention just but a few.
The World Food Program (2020) reported that more than 900,000 people northern of Capo Delgado in Mozambique are facing a crisis in the levels of food security whilst in Zambia, more than half of the population still live below the poverty datum line with most people depending on subsistence agriculture as a food source.
Tanzania and Namibia on the other hand, seem to have achieved significant progress in economic development and on a successful road to achieving zero hunger. However, rapid urbanization and high rates of unemployment pose a threat as youths and women have limited access to food and basic social services. Similarly, access to food in Malawi has been limited due to rapid population growth.
FAO (2019) suggested in a report that promoting sustainable food and agricultural systems around the world will reduce the spread of hunger and preserve natural resources thus the need to invest in various agricultural and food systems. Examples include shifting cultivation, commercial dairy farming, mixed farming, commercial farming just to mention a few. Putting in place the right systems is important to ensure food security, economic development and sustained farming for a community and country overall.
The following Tracks were considered in addressing the issue of food security and eventually achieving zero hunger:
1. Local Food Production – Solutions that amplify, promote, leverage, consolidate, and monetize already existing food production values and systems e.g., Ujamaa, Nhimbe, Mushandirapamwe, Umoja, Sabonet, Ubuntu etc
2. Smart Food Preservation – Solutions that take advantage of research to add value, package, store, market and distribute food.3. Programs and Community Initiatives,- Solutions that advocate for best practices in Smart Farming whilst building on already existing value systems. No Smart Farming without the Smart Farmer.
4. Life Skills – Solutions that discover, educate, motivate, equip, and support the young population in the Zambezi Basin countries towards sustainable food security whilst unlocking economic potential and creating employment.
5. Climate Change Adaptation – Solutions that help communities and countries to be resilient against the effects of Climate Change. Alternative Solutions to deforestation and solutions that are proponent to afforestation as well as land restoration. Also, to include Smart Water Management and Smart Energy solutions.
6. Finance – Solutions that address gaps around Finance when it comes to Food Security. These include Out grower Schemes targeting already existing food security value systems, among others.
7. Smart Mobility– Solutions that address problems in the movement of human beings, animals, supplies and produce especially addressing gaps around Food Security.
8. Urban Farming – Solutions that embrace modern-day technology such as soil testing and take advantage of innovative farming methods in urban areas to help families with extraordinarily little or no extra land to still contribute towards food security.
The Innovation Challenge that attracted a lot of speakers and mentors from different parts of the world was full of mind blowing innovations and ideas that gave the juries hard time to select the winners.
Here are the Event Metrix: 252 applications received 32 Teams registered 21 Teams Passed Day 1 Checkpoint 20 Teams Passed through Day 2 Checkpoints 17 Teams passed through Day 3 Checkpoint and submitted their final pitches representing Zambia, Botswana, Namibia, Malawi, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. The message was loud and clear, Africa’s young population carries the hope of the continent and if supported will help the continent to take the lead.
After the Jury, this is how the final scores were:-
2. Sustainable Protein
3. Mazi Horticulturists
4. Smart Village Agri Hubs
5. GrinHub Innovations
9. Alternative Energy
10. Enriched Foods
11. Love and Unity Farms
12. Lumwi Lwabala
13. Zambezi Bream Producers
14. Irrigation Farming
15. The Dreamers
16. Beyond The Green Screen
17. My Africa My Food
Massive thank you to all mentors and speakers who took their time to be with us.